EAGLES INTO KO CUP SEMIS
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP Q/F 2nd leg
EASTBOURNE 54: Georgie Wood 15, Tom Brennan 12+2, Mark Baseby 12, Jason Edwards 8+2, Kelsey Dugard 7+1, Charlie Brooks 0, Charley Powell r/r.
COVENTRY 36: Jamie Halder 10+2, Connor Mountain 8, Danny Phillips 6+1, Jon Armstrong 6, Luke Harris 4+2, Luke Ruddick 1+1, Jamie Bursill 1+1.
Eastbourne win 98-82 on aggregate.
Eastbourne further cemented their reputation as cup kings as they overcame Coventry to reach the semi-finals of the National League KO Cup.
The Forman IT Eagles relied heavily on their heatleaders to see them safely through as the visitors threatened an upset in the first half of the second leg tie on Saturday )June 2) at Arlington Stadium.
Georgie Wood relished his promotion to the No 1 spot in the team with a five-ride 15-point maximum while the man he deposed, Mark Baseby, raced to a 12-point maximum.
Tom Brennan was only one point short of a paid maximum.
At the half-way stage, the score was 25-23 which meant the teams were all square on aggregate.
Heat nine provide to be the turning point.
The visitors’ vastly experienced Jon Armstrong hit the tapes and was put back 15m at the re-start.
That opened the door to the Eagles who cashed in through Baseby and Kelsey Dugard for a 5-1 which meant Eastbourne were leading for the first time in the tie.
The next race was a thriller.
Wood was away from the traps like a scalded cat while behind 15-year-old Jason Edwards came from the back to first pass Luke Harris and then Danny Phillips to follow Wood home in what was a four lap ding-don and the race of the night.
All of a sudden there was clear water between the teams and two more 5-1s in the closing stages put the icing on the cake.
Wood said: “I went out there and gave it my all and that was the outcome.
“In the last race Tom [Brennan] and me had a chat and said he would be best off from the inside gate. I didn’t want to go wide on the first turn but I went a bit wider than I thought.
“I didn’t want to let anyone underneath but I had the speed. I really had wanted Tom to go in front with me behind to let him come down but I was in front.”
Wood was delighted with his showing fo this first time back at No 1 and commented:
“You are a heat leader for a reason. The new averages have come out and people are in their places due to their performances during the year.
“I think team did really well. We can sharpen up a little bit more.”
He said the team pulled together but admitted they were a bit nervous before the start.
“We wanted it sewn up by heat 12 – you want any match sewn up by heat 12. It was tight early on and we had a few falls. That happens, that’s part of racing.
“We kept our finger on the button and pressed on throughout the meeting.”
Eastbourne, who have won the NL KO Cup for the last three seasons, are now have to wait for other ties to be completed before finding out who will be their semi-final opponents.
This week the Eagles are at Birmingham on Wednesday and the Isle of Wight on Thursday.
Reserve Charlie Brooks, who was left very sore after a high-speed crash in heat five - misses the trip across the Solent on Thursday because of school exams.
He will similarly miss the trip to Kent the following week.
As promised here's the Kevin Ling verdict on last night's action.
Eastbourne ‘Forman IT’ Eagles remained within sight of a possible third successful defence of the National League Knockout Cup after they ended Coventry Bees interest in the competition on Saturday evening.
The Bees travelled to Sussex holding a slender 2-point advantage but a match of two halves saw the reigning holder’s ramp up the pressure in the latter stages to triumph 54-36 in the second leg.
This success duly earned them an aggregate 98-82 victory over the two matches and safe passage into the competition semi-final stage.
It was to prove nowhere near as easy as the final score line might suggest, however.
The Bees provided dogged resistance throughout the first half of the programme and lived with their hosts for the first eight races.
Maximum points in heat nine saw the Sussex outfit ease ahead of their opponents for the first time over the two legs.
A further 5-1 in race ten eased concerns as the Eagles started to put daylight between themselves and the Bees.
Further such advantages in the crucial heats thirteen and fifteen saw them run out seemingly comfortable winners by that 18-point margin on the night.
It was heat leader strength that proved key to the Eastbourne success, new number one Georgie Wood romping to an untroubled 15-point maximum.
Skipper Mark Baseby also went unbeaten on the night with a 12-point maximum of his own.
Tom Brennan also put in a shift suffering only one defeat by an opponent to amass paid 14-points, that coming against Jon Armstrong in heat three.
For the Bees it was lively reserve Jamie Halder who provided the bulk of their scoring with an impressive paid 12-point return.
Heat one looked set to result in a share of the spoils as Wood started as he meant to go on with a win.
However a fall in the latter part for Luke Ruddick saw Jason Edwards secure third place and the 4-2 saw Eagles move immediately level over the two legs.
Kelsey Dugard took the honours in a rerun heat two however Eastbourne hopes of stamping authority on the tie ended as Charlie Brooks suffered an untidy fall.
Baseby won the third but Danny Phillips and Luke Harris combined to keep Dugard at bay, the scores moving to 10-8 on the night, 54-points apiece on aggregate.
A momentarily loss of control for Brennan in race four saw Armstrong and Halder seize the initiative and a visitors 5-1 looked to be on the cards.
The Eagle quickly reeled in Halder but was unable to catch the Bees' Captain on the run in to the line and consequently the visitors regained their 2-point aggregate advantage.
Baseby got the better of Connor Mountain in the fifth but an alarming fall for Brooks, one that also saw Ruddick unseated, ensured that Eagles would only take a split of the points.
Thankfully both Brooks and Ruddick were able to walk back to the pits though their machinery unfortunately looked to have taken a bit of a hammering.
Wood reigned supreme again in the sixth winning out against Armstrong while Edwards held third from Jamie Bursill and Eastbourne’s 4-2 saw them level on aggregate once more at 63-63.
Brennan was the winner of heat seven but Brooks was undoubtedly feeling the effects of his heavy fall and Phillips and Harris filled the minor places once again as the score on the night moved to 22-20.
Two-points was still the difference following the next as the impressive Halder nipped sharply from the traps to deny both Dugard and Edwards.
It had seemed a long time in coming but finally Eastbourne took the lead over the two matches courtesy of a 5-1 from Baseby and Dugard in the ninth.
It might have proved a different scenario however had Armstrong not been penalised 15 metres for breaking the starting tapes.
Wood was an all the way winner in race ten but Edwards helped ease frayed nerves with a brilliant from the back burst to overcome both Harris and Phillips in turn.
The second successive maximum saw Eagles lead 35-25 and by 8-points, 79-71 on aggregate.
A brace of 3-3s saw Coventry remain within sight but a further 5-1 in heat thirteen served to put Eagles through to the Semi-Finals.
Brennan won a superb duel with Mountain in eleven though Halder again showed his worth by containing Dugard throughout.
Similarly Baseby made it four wins out of four for him but Halder and Phillips each conspired to keep the overworked Dugard behind them.
Wood and Brennan combined for the all-important 5-1 over opposing heavy hitters Mountain and Armstrong in the thirteenth that finally put the tie beyond doubt.
A further maximum looked set to follow as Edwards and Dugard led however the latter appeared to suffer difficulties with his machinery as both Harris and Halder found a way past him.
Wood and Brennan teamed up once again in the last race and the outcome remained the same as the former duly wrapped up a superb maximum while Brennan again got the better of a titanic tussle with Mountain.
Eagles: Georgie Wood 15(5), Tom Brennan 12+2(5), Mark Baseby 12(4), Jason Edwards 8+2(5). Kelsey Dugard 7+1(7), Charlie Brooks 0(4), Rider Replacement for Charley Powell. – 54 (Aggregate – 98)
Bees: Jamie Halder 10+2(6), Connor Mountain 8(5), Danny Phillips 6+1(5), Jon Armstrong 6(4), Luke Harris 4+2(4), Luke Ruddick 1+1(3), Jamie Bursill 1+1(3). – 36 (Aggregate – 82)