Scunthorpe Scorpions 48 Somerset Rebels 42 - Scunthorpe win speedway league 92-91 on aggregate
The Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions clinched the Speedway Premier League title last night in the very last race of a tense encounter at the Scorpions’ Eddie Wright Raceway.
With the Scorpions unable to extend the lead they held for most of the meeting a six-point lead on the night going into the last race meant they were ahead by just one solitary point. With Somerset’s Jesper B. Monberg racing away it left the Scorpions pair of Josh Auty and Nick Morris to fend off a strong challenge from former Scorpions skipper Richard Hall for four laps.
Hall tried everything to get past but the Scorpions duo just managed to keep him at bay and clinch the league title.
The meeting started well for the Scorpions with Josh Auty winning heat 1 before the reserve pairing of Michael Palm Toft and Gary Irving recorded a 5-1 in heat 2. However, there was a shock in heat 3 when Ashley Birks and Jason Bunyan conceded a 5-1. Birks recovered with a heat win before Auty and Toft claimed a 5-1 in heat 6 to, once again, give the Scorpions a four point lead on the night.
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The lead was extended to six in heat 7 with a 4-2 from Gary Irving and Nick Morris but it could have been more if the race hadn’t have been awarded when Lewis Kerr fell. Worse followed in heat eight when Ashley Birks was hit by Kyle Newman and a likely heat advantage became a 3-3 in the re-run.
Worse than the loss of a heat advantage was the loss of Birks. An injury sustained in heat 8 meant he wasn’t able to take his programmed ride in heat 9 and the Rebels claimed a 5-1 against the Scorpions’ reserves. It cut the gap to six points but consecutive 4-2s extended the lead back to six and the aggregate lead with four races to go.
Heat 12 saw the Scorpions squander a 3-3 when Toft crashed out but Mick Morris and Josh Auty recorded a 4-2 in heat 13 to see the Scorpions claim the aggregate lead once more. With Ashley Birks surprisingly fit to ride again he looked to be on a 3-3 with Toft but he tried to round Kyle Newman and fell heavily. In the re-run the Scorpions had a stroke of luck when Newman hit the tapes and had to go from the 15-metre mark. The advantage was enough for Toft who won the race with ease.
It all meant the Scorpions needed a 3-3 in the deciding race but when Monberg got away it became a real three way battle for the minor placings. Although it was touch and go at times Nick Morris and Josh Auty kept Richard Hall at bay for four laps to ensure the Scorpions won the league title by the narrowest of margins – just one race point.
The end of the race signalled the start of some wild celebrations before the league championship trophy was presented to captain Ashley Birks.
After the meeting an emotional Richard Hollingsworth (Scorpions’ Team Manager) explained “It is a dream come true and the culmination of eight and a half years hard work. It was just so dramatic though. We had drama with the rain earlier in the day and the track staff just worked wonders this afternoon to give us a race track. Then for it to go down to the last lap of the last race was more than nerves could take. I was okay until Ashley crashed in heat 14. I was confident we would win but from that point I knew that one engine failure could decide the league title.
“You have to take your hat off to the Rebels for putting up a great fight and you have to feel for them because they must be hurting having come so close.
“However, we do have a special team. We’ve had problems thrown at us all season long and they continued tonight but as always we dug deep, battled on and came through in the end. I’m so very proud of the riders and delighted for everyone involved with the club. Premier League Champions! It certainly sounds very nice indeed”
Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions 48: Josh Auty 11+1 (5), Jason Bunyan 2 (3), Ashley Birks 5+1 (4), Nick Morris 11+1 (6), Michael Palm Toft 12 (7), Gary Irving 7+2 (5).
Somerset Rebels 42: Richard Hall 5+1 (5), Alex Davies 8+1 (4), Jesper B Monberg 10+1 (5), James Wright 7 (4), Claus Vissing 7 (4), Kyle Newman 5+2 (6), Lewis Kerr 0 (3).
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