News from Coventry Bees and Storm
Coventry Buildbase Bees have failed in their attempt to become 2014 Elite League Champions. Although they put up a good fight they had to give second best to Poole Pirates in the play-off final.
After a truncated first leg at Coventry saw them go to Wimbourne Road with a three point deficit, they gave the home team a good fight before going down by 53 points to 37 and 90-71 on aggregate.
Bees 34, Poole 37
Elite League play-off final 1st leg
After problems with the other semi final, this match finally got underway on Friday although rain was forecast for later in the evening. The track had been underwater earlier in the week and apart from a couple of uncertain patches on the first and fourth turns Colin Pratt and his staff had worked wonders to produce a good racing surface.
With Ben Barker fit again, Bees were at full strength while Poole had three guests, Troy Batchelor, Danny King and Matt Williamson.
Bees started well with the in-form Kyle Howarth winning heat one with Hans Andersen splitting the Batchelor-King pairing coming out of turn two.
Kyle Newman won a shared heat two before Bees looked set for another 4-2 from Chris Harris and Barker before a slight mistake by Barker on the last turn let in former Bee Przemyslaw Pawlicki for third place.
Poole made the start to heat four. Jason Garrity locked up on the second turn and was out of the running. The persistent Kenneth Hansen gave chase and passed Newman on the back straight of the third lap to keep the scores level.
Andersen and Harris took an untroubled 5-1 in heat five to open up a four-point gap.
Poole immediately hit back in the next. Barker and Hansen edged it from the gate but good work on the back straight saw Pawlicki and Maciej Janowski in the lead entering turn three.
Bees led heat seven but Vaclav Milik fell when trying to pass James Sarjeant at the start of the second lap. The Bees rider was eventually excluded much to the dismay of Coventry officials although TV replays showed the referee had a point. Howarth led the rerun but Poole’s expected minimum three points was reduced to two after Williamson fell unchallenged on the Coventry turn.
Bees now led by a solitary point and honours remained even after an eventful heat eight which proved to be the race of the night. Hansen led, but a mistake on the third lap let Pawlicki past. There was then a big battle for the last two places with Barker snatching third in a blanket finish.
It took three attempts to start heat nine. Newman led from the start but Garrity took the lead at the end of the second lap. With Sarjeant taking third Bees were again three up.
Another eventful race in heat ten saw Pawlicki the initial leader. Howarth took the lead at the end of the second lap but turn four saw his undoing as a mistake yards from the tape saw the Poole man regain his lead. While this was happening a disappointing Andersen was trailing at the back.
The promised rain finally arrived, albeit it 45 minutes later than forecast. As heat ten had been completed the result would stand whatever with no rerun required.
Poole then took two successive 4-2 in the worsening conditions to take a 37-34 lead before a halt was called to proceedings.
There were various views from both camps as to whether the meeting should continue but the opinion of a lot of people was that Poole were looking the stronger and could well have gone into the second leg with a much more substantial lead. A three point deficit does at least give Bees some sort of chance on Monday.
Howarth and Harris were best for Bees with the only real disappointment being Andersen, who registered just three points from three rides and some work will be needed from the Coventry camp to get him back on song for the second leg. Barker, returning from a lengthy lay-off obviously lacked match practice but was always in the mix, so with a match under his belt should be in better shape next time out.
Bees’ scorers: Howarth 10, Harris 8, Hansen, Garrity 5, Andersen 3(1), Sarjeant 2(1), Barker 1(1).
Poole 53, Bees 37
Elite League play-off final 2nd leg.
Both teams made changes for this match. Poole retained guest Troy Batchelor but partnered him with his Swindon team mate, Nick Morris. Benji Compton returned as reserve. For Bees Ben Barker was declared unfit and Max Fricke was drafted in.
A sharp shower some 40 minutes before the start caused some alarm but it was only brief and caused no problems.
Bees made a good start with Howarth winning heat one from the tapes with Andersen working his way into third and almost getting second at one stage after being taken wide on the first turn.
A shared heat two was on the cards until Garrity fell at the start of the second lap and was excluded. Sarjeant however, saved the day with a superb ride to hold out local hero Newman and retain the 3-3 heat score.
Heat three was where it started to go wrong for Bees. Fricke made the start with Harris in third. By the second lap the Poole pair was ahead and then on the third turn a mix-up saw Fricke fall after colliding with Harris. Surprisingly with under two laps gone the referee awarded the race with Harris excluded. This put Poole ahead for the first time on the night.
The tension was mounting and heat four took three attempts to run. At the first go Sarjeant demolished the tapes with such force it pulled the post out of its mountings. Garrity then came in as a replacement and fell on turn two along with Milik. All four were ordered back. When the race got underway again Howarth and Garrity led out of turn two but Garrity then lifted and lost a place. They held out for the 4-2 to bring the scores back level.
Poole took an untroubled 5-1 in the next to open up a seven point aggregate lead.
Harris won the next with Andersen having to settle for third after an attempt to take Pawlicki wide on the first turn failed.
There was more incident in an action packed race. Positions changed consistently throughout and in a bizarre ending both Hansen and Morris thought the race was over after three laps and slowed down. Newman was the eventual winner from Garrity with Morris cruising home for third.
Another 5-1 in heat eight put Poole in a commanding position with the score at 28-20.
Heats nine and ten were shared as was heat eleven which saw a nasty fall involving Pawlicki and Janowski who were in close attendance to Andersen at the time. Pawlicki was excluded but Janowski dusted himself down and came out and won the rerun.
With heat twelve also shared thirteen proved unlucky as this was the heat that ended any lingering hopes of a comeback. It was Janowski who took the plaudits with another good win.
Poole then finished with successive 5-1’s to make the final score 53-37 which did not really do justice to Bees efforts.
There was no doubt the better team won so Bees could have no complaints. Once again it was Bees lack of heat leader strength that let them down, Harris and Andersen scoring just thirteen between them. Howarth once again top scored with nine.
Bees should not be too despondent over this as they put up a good show and gave Poole some anxious moments over the two legs.
Bees’ scorers: Howarth 9, Harris 7(1), Andersen, Garrity 6, Sarjeant 4(1), Fricke 3(1), Hansen 2(1).
On Sunday Coventry host the National League fours, a competition which involves the top eight teams in the league. There are two rounds of four teams racing over eight races with the top two from each group going into an eight race final. The meeting starts at 2.30pm.
A date has yet to be fixed for the second leg of the National League play-off final against Cradley. The first leg should have been ridden last Tuesday (weather permitting).