LAURENCE Rogers was left to reflect on a day to forget for Coventry Storm as Rye House were crowed National League Fours champions in a controversial meeting at Brandon on Sunday, writes Observer Speedway reporter Robin Allen.
The hosts Coventry were very much up against it after number one Dan Greenwood was ruled out with a broken collarbone after crashing at Buxton the previous weekend.
Struggling Storm were drawn in a tough group B for the semi-final with Belle Vue, Birmingham and Eastbourne and they did not managed to get any points on the board until heat five when Mitchell Davey secured second place with their hopes of making the final all but over.
Belle Vue and Eastbourne dominated, finishing equal on 17 points while defending Fours champions Birmingham missed out on 12 points.
“It was a rough day for our boys,” said Rogers. “Both Davey and Liam Carr really had meetings to forget by their standards.
“They both lifted in their first race and Liam came off in his second when he was trying some stuff out with his bike, which didn’t work.
“The boys have not had enough time on the bike which has had an impact on them, but we have two meetings this week so hopefully we can bounce back.
“I can’t say too much about what went on in the Final, but all I would say is I felt it was very badly handled. Perhaps something like that shouldn’t be done in public view, it should be taken into the changing room, sat down and talked about calmly.”
In the other group, Rye House were one of the favourites to reach the final and former former Coventry riders Rob Branford and Luke Priest helped then score 18 points.
Cradley joined the Raiders in the final which turned out to be a dramatic affair, with the first three heats providing talking points galore.
Raiders rider Priest fell when second in Heat 1, and in the re-run an error by Eastbourne’s Ellis Perks saw him bring down Belle Vue’s Rob Shuttleworth on turn two.
Shuttleworth, who rode for the Storm last season, responded by squaring up to Perks, and referee Dave Robinson saw enough of the subsequent confrontation to exclude the Colts rider from the remainder of the meeting for violent conduct.
That left just Cradley’s Ashley Morris to complete four uncontested laps for three points and after heat four Rye House led by two points although Dan Bewley reduced the arrears with a great ride to beat Branford in the next.
The Colts were always going into Heat six with no rider due to Shuttleworth’s ejection from the meeting, but Clegg’s win in that race kept the meeting open for the top three teams, who were all covered by a solitary point after Heat seven.
Rye House and Eastbourne were tied on 11 points with Belle Vue one point back, but Morley conjured a flying start in the decider as Ellis hit trouble, and the Raiders rider quickly saw off the challenge of the Colts’ Matt Williamson to start the celebrations in the Rye camp.