Coventry Buildbase Bees will be competing in the Elite League play-offs. Two resounding victories in last Friday’s double header realised six league points and ensured a place in the top four of the table, writes Alan Goodman.
This may have turned out to be more vital than seemed at the time for the elation was slightly tempered three nights later when a weakened Poole team rode to a well-deserved 50-40 win and ended any slight hopes Bees had of finishing top of the Elite League table
Coventry Storm are also in their respective National League play-offs by virtue of holding second place in the league for most of the season. Hopes however of a league and cup double look very unlikely after a 63-28 semi-final first leg defeat at Cradley last Tuesday.
Bees 60, Eastbourne 32.
Bees went into this match with Josh Auty guesting for Ben Barker, otherwise at full strength. The visitors were rather depleted, fielding four guest riders including former Bees favourites Rory Schlein and Stuart Robson.
With play off places at stake, tension showed in the opening race when all four were called back after attempts to jump the start. Hans Andersen made the break in the rerun with Kyle Howarth joining him at the front coming out of turn two.
Jason Garrity won heat two with James Sarjeant coming through to third.
Auty took a nasty tumble in heat three after Robson clipped his back wheel on turn three. He recovered but could only manage third in the rerun which was won by Chris Harris after passing Schlein at the end of the first lap.
Timo Lahti won heat four for the visitors after picking off both Bees riders in successive laps.
Andersen and Harris took a maximum in heat five before Eastbourne staged a mini revival.
Schlein was given a tactical ride in heat six and combined with Bjarne Pedersen for an 8-1 heat win.
Howarth prevented another maximum by taking second in heat eight before a two-man race in heat eight resulted in another 3-2 reverse.
At this stage Bees led by 26 -24.
Bees then got it together and reeled of six maximum heat wins in the last seven races to make the final score 60-32 and three of the League points in the bag.
For Bees both Andersen and Harris were unbeaten by an opponent while Howarth dropped just one point. Kenneth Hansen had a better meeting than of late by scoring a paid eight.
Bee’s scorers; Andersen, Harris 13(2), Garrity 10(1), Howarth 9(2), Hansen 7(1), Sarjeant 4(1), Auty 4.
Bees 60, Eastbourne 33.
After a brief break the teams took to the track for the second match of this double header.
Andersen won heat one with Howarth coming through for third on the second lap before the reserves took a maximum in heat two.
Bees made the start to heat three but Schlein was soon into second place.
Two successive 5-1’s took the score to 23-7 causing Schlein to take a tactical ride for the second time of the evening. The result was the same as before with the Bees pair taken wide allowing Pedersen through to follow his partner home for an 8-1.
Kylmakorpi won heat seven with Sarjeant coming through to third for a share of the points.
Auty and Hansen took a 5-1 in heat eight to leave the score a healthy 32-19 at the halfway stage.
The reserves took another 5-1 in heat nine but Bees did not run away with things as before with Schlein and Robson following Andersen home in heat ten.
Pedersen took the second tactical ride available in heat eleven. This was probably not the best of moves as he was off gate one which had not produced a winner all evening. It was a good effort by Bees to prevent another maximum. Harris went between the two entering the first turn before Auty joined him coming out of turn two.
A 4-2 in heat twelve secured all three points and virtually sealed a place in the play-offs.
Schlein became the villain of the piece in heat thirteen when he took the lead on lap two and ruined both Harris and Andersen’s chances of going through the whole evening unbeaten.
Hansen rode a good race to win heat fourteen before Bees finished up with maximum points for an emphatic 60-33 victory.
Bee’s scorers; Harris 13(1), Andersen 12(2), Garrity 11(1), Hansen 10, Sarjeant 5(3), Auty 5(2), Howarth 4.
Bees 40, Poole 50.
Bees had Max Fricke guesting for the still injured Ben Barker while the visitors had two guests plus rider replacement for the suspended Darcy Ward
Bees suffered an early setback when Howarth took a nasty tumble on a tight first turn of heat one. After a lengthy delay he was taken to hospital with facial injuries and took no further part in the match. Garrity proved an adequate replacement in the rerun by following Andersen home for an opening 5-1.
He was out again to win the next but partner Sarjeant could make no impression on the visiting pair so the points were shared.
Maciej Janowski won heat three despite a good effort by the slow starting Harris to reel him in. Once again however the points were shared.
Poole hit back to draw level in heat four before the Andersen–Harris combination restored Bees lead although Andersen had to give way to Poole guest Dakota North.
It was back level in heat six with Hansen having to split the fast gating visiting pair.
After a shared heat seven, Josh Grajczonek and Richard Lawson took maximum points in heat eight to leave the halfway score at 26-22 to Poole.
The reserves race was won by Kyle Newman with the Bees pair taking the minor places. Andersen’s wide riding tactics let him down in heat ten and was trailing the visiting pair before Sarjeant fell on the Rugby turn. In the rerun the Bees number one tried the same move with the same result. Fortunately he was able to get back by Richard Lawson but two more points were lost. Poole were now on top of their game and two 4-2’s and a 5-1 in the next three heats virtually sealed the match.
A shared heat fourteen saw Hanson and Newman have a disagreement over the latter’s tactics as he appeared Hansen’s last ditch attempt to take second place on the run-in to the flag.
Harris and Andersen finished up with a 5-1 but it came far too late as Poole had the three points in the bag.
Harris top scored and received good support from Garrity. Andersen had a disappointing night, scoring only eight from his five rides.
Bee’s scorers; Harris 12, Garrity 9(1), Andersen 8(1), Sarjeant 6(2), Hansen 3, Fricke 2(1), Howarth 0
Cradley 63, Storm 28.
National League K.O.Cup semi-final 1st leg.
Storm operated rider replacement for Stefan Nielsen but was otherwise at full strength.
Cradley opened with maximum points and despite a shared heat two, the home lead steadily increased to twelve by the end of heat five.
A second place for Sarjeant on a tactical double in heat five brought four points but once again heat points were shared. Cradley led 32-17 at the halfway stage. Heats nine and thirteen were shared but the Heathens finished up with four successive 5-1’s to put the seal on a miserable night for Storm.
Storm scorer’s; Sarjeant 10(1), Oliver Greenwood 6, Dan Greenwood 5, Martin Knuckey 5, Ryan Terry-Daley 1(1), Luke Priest 1,
Storm’s Oliver Greenwood won the Kent staged British under-21 Championship on Monday night and becomes the second Storm rider to hold this title, Stefan Nielsen being the first.
Greenwood scored a maximum fifteen points, beating Josh Bates by one. Jack Kingston was third.
There is no match at Brandon on Friday but both teams are in action on Monday.
Bees visit Belle Vue for their penultimate Elite League match, while Storm go to Kent for the first leg of their National League play-off semi-final.