The Division 4 League (Under 13) Grand Final between Findon Comets and Murraylands was a great match to watch with just a few points separating the two teams all the way through the match.
In the end it was the Comets taking the Premiership Shield home with all riders doing their part.
Murraylands were the sentimental favourites as it was their first appearance in a Grand Final which, in the past, has been dominated by the Findon Comets and Salisbury Jets.
Although they did not win, the Murraylands riders did not disappoint their followers with excellent riding skills and plenty of challenges.
A special mention to their Team Manager and mentor Daniel Thompson who has spent countless hours every week getting his team in form for the big challenge.
I know they all went home very pleased with their effort and I predict next year they will be once again a great fighting force.
Referee: Bob Osborne
My long awaited return to the heartland of cycle speedway in Australia provided all the excitement and tension that I had come to expect.
The crowds poured into the track at Salisbury in the northern outskirts of Adelaide in South Australia, and began to take up their vantage points around the caldrum; the focal point of this year’s battle for the Australian Cycle Speedway Championships.
Only weeks ago, I was watching the British Individual Championships in a more subdued, quaint English setting; bushy green trees, Union Jack fluttering in the breeze and coolish mid-Norfolk weather prompting the wearing of jackets and the odd woolly jumper.
Salisbury, by extreme contrast, boasted a typically Aussie-flavoured venue for the “clash of the cycle speedway titans”- warm balmy weather, loads of suncream, the faint smell of pie and sauce in the air, and obligatory t-shirts and singlets thrown into the bargain.
They breed tough cycle speedway riders in South Australia, and looking around the crowd at Salisbury earlier today, there was no doubt in my mind they breed an even tougher bunch of spectators down in this part of the world- loud, supportive, informative and hungry for action. And I would have loved a dollar for every tattoo I spotted today (and that was just on the women).
It was 33 degrees out in the middle of the track..enough to send Poms into a cardiac arrest…the sun beat relentlessly down on 170 riders from Tinytots to Over 30s, and once the pomp and circumstance, parade and National Anthem were done and dusted, the competition for this year’s Australian Championships began in earnest.
I think the heat must have been getting to me today, because I actually started to enjoy the Tiny Tots as much as the mums and dads around the track, and by the time the Junior Divisions were in full swing, I was well on the way to being totally hooked on cycle speedway (yet again).
To record the exploits of Division 7 down to Division 2 in wonderful (and well deserved) detail would probably take another ten articles to do justice to an afternoon of intense, entertaining cycle speedway competition.
Suffice to say, the Brits have two years to get their juniors boys and girls into shape for the upcoming Worlds, because the standard of riding I was privileged to see today, would probably have seen the Aussies “whip derriere” had the two nations clashed at Salisbury this afternoon.
Stand-out riders were Farren Wills (Division 2) who has the potential to be a World Champion, and young guys like Cooper Dawson (Division 7) and Blade Blatchford (Division 6), who are certainly the “future of the sport” in South Australia.
Other winners were Shane Bentley (Division 3), Jack Norman (Division 5) and Matt Bryant (Division 4).
Girl power was also out in force today, with Holly Greenhalgh taking out the Under 13 Girls Championship after spending time negotiating the concrete verge around the outside of the Salisbury track, and Letitia Collins who dominated the Ladies Over 13.
Letitia has had a bit of a stranglehold on the female races in recent times, but she told CSN that she was very aware of the emerging strength of riders such as Lucy Millikin, who is certainly an up-and-coming star in cycle speedway.
“I was extremely nervous going into today’s Championship. The girls had come up so well, but now I have the win behind me I feel really good”.
And what about Mr Skull and Crossbones, Darren Matthews?
Looking more like a contestant on “The Biggest Loser” than a supreme cycle speedway athlete, Darren put up the most sensational performance of these Championships, battling his way into the final, and then winning the Senior Australian Title from the seemingly impossible outside grid position “Number Four”.
Darren somehow landed himself in front after the first turn, and survived an incredibly tense four laps to bring down the house at Salisbury.
“We want a urine sample!” someone yelled out in the crowd. It was inspirational stuff.
I must confess I did have some reservations about the Division One clash today, thinking everyone would be on their “best behaviour” and that referee, Mick Harley, might have put a stranglehold on the event with his “politically correct interpretation of the Rule Book”.
However, to the credit of both Mick and the riders, today’s Division One competition was the best I had ever seen- full of borderline push and shove, high risk, high intensity racing and every rider giving an incredible 110% in every heat.
How much more exciting can a Championship be, with riders like Daniel Thompson flying through the air, Brad Gentle taking out the opposition (and being the only rider to be excluded on the day) and wheels frequently touching at high speed or scraping dangerously on the inside curb as riders tried to take inside lines that were often non-existent.
Daniel Pudney fulfilled a promise to use his brain rather than his legs in this year’s Championship, scraping into the Final after some spirited riding in the heats, but his chances of adding a sixth Australian title to his collection were not good after drawing the outside grid.
“I jokingly said to my brother beforehand, it’s not real good when your main game plan is to wait till they fall off. There’s not much you can do from out there”.
At the end of a torrid Division One Final, it was last year’s winner, Ty Geertsen, who reigned supreme, repeating his 2010 success with a flawless exhibition of cycle speedway riding.
“It was pretty tough out there today. Lots of competition, but I got through it” Ty told CSN after his win.
“I didn’t start the day too well. I wasn’t feeling all that good when I woke up, but gradually picked up when I started racing. I knew Puds and Cody were going to make it hard for me, which it was in the last race. It took a lot of energy to win through in the end. It’s all about speed and stamina”.
Today’s Australian Cycle Speedway Championships concluded with a tsunami of gold cups being showered upon a host of very deserving riders from all Divisions.
Darren Mathews got HIS filled with champagne, and was still living up his “moment of glory” as I left the track.
FOR A FULL PHOTOGRAPHIC COVERAGE OF THIS EVENT SEE CSN ARCHIVES
A great, close match was conducted in the Cycle Speedway Night League clash between the Bush Rangers and Outlaws in Adelaide.
The Outlaws suffered 2 exclusions with Nash Manoel taking a rider too wide, and Brad Hoppo incurring the wrath of the referee for ‘gate movement’.
Bush Rangers suffered 1 exclusion with Daniel Bax on the gate, but his brother Tony failed to finish in race 2 after bike failure.
Going into the 3 finals the Bush Rangers were only 4 points in front, but scored 6-4, 5-5 and 7-3 in the 3 finals to win the match by 10 points.
Bush Rangers: Farren Wills 17, Joel Chadwick 16, Cameron Crisp 14, Paul White 12, Daniel Bax 11, Tony Bax 8
Outlaws: Daniel Robb 17, Daniel Pudney 14, Bobby McMillan 14, Nash Manoel 9, Brad Hoppo 8, Tyrone Walters 6.
Bush Rangers 78 Outlaws 68
The Salisbury Jets are out of the Division 4 Grand Final for the very first time since the League started 21 years ago in 1990.
The League Final has always been between the Findon Comets and the Salisbury Jets but this year Murraylands have made their way into the Grand Final against the Comets after finishing 2nd in today’s League match.
Dolphins won the match on 62 points with Murraylandsa on 60 and Jets on 58 but after a countback on total points over the year Murraylands beat the Dolphins by a mere 2 points to progress into the Grand Final. It was a great match which started out that any of the 3 teams could make the Final.
In looked like Murraylands were marching straight into the Final as their riders Jayden Lee and Cameron Zadow were comfortably in the lead coming out of the last bend and heading for home when one of them slipped taking down his team mate and Dolphins Adan Thompson and Jack Norman cruised home for a 7-3 to give the Dolphins a total of 6 Premiership Points putting them equal with Murraylands.
You could hear the Murraylands heartbeats pounding like a sub-woofer as the countback on points took place and then on the announcement that they had made it after all sent a huge roar around their camp.
A special mention to Daniel Thompson who has worked tirelessly to get his team into the Final and there is no doubt that everyone but the Comets will be cheering for the Murraylands team at the Grand Final in November.
It’s great to see Dolphins and Murraylands knock the Comets and Jets off their perch this year as it opens up the League to make it more interesting.
Congratulations to all riders from Dolphins, Jets and Murraylands on a brilliant and exciting match. All riders rode well and are a credit to their team.
Jack Norman 22, Corey Stevens 16, Shiranta Aston 12, Adam Thompson 8, Accacia Pride 4
Brodie Wohlschlager 16, Cameron Zadow 13, Amy Lee Hay 12, Jayden Lee 11, Ebony Clark 5, Levi Simpson-Stothers 3
Jake Mathews 20, Matty Snowden 15, Jamie-Lee Clee-Collins 14, Mathew Hurley 5, Michael Ratcliffe 4.
It was a rather chilly night for round 7 and the undefeated Bandits were short of a rider so a top was quickly put on Aiden Thompson who is about 9 years old to make up the numbers. He rode extremely well and scored 9 valuable points for his team.
The Bandits were in front for most of the match until Ty Geertsen lost his chain and ‘scooted’ around for 3 laps to finish 4th in race 9 and then two races later his team mate Cody Chadwick snapped his chain ring and failed to finish.
At the end of the minor round the Outlaws were 62-56.
In the first final Outlaws pulled further ahead with a Brad Hoppo/Jarod Weinert 7-3 over Jay Walters and Aiden Thompson. The second and third Final was a 5-5 which gave the Outlaws their first win 79-69
Bandits: Matt Gentle 16, Shane Bentley 12, Ty Geertsen 12, Cody Chadwick 11, Jay Walters 9, Aiden Thompson 9.
Outlaws: Daniel Pudney 18, Daniel Robb 15, Bobby McMillan 13, Jarod Weinert 12, Nash Manoel 11, Brad Hoppo 7
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