There are times in sport where you don’t always get the success that your efforts deserve but a marker can be laid down for the future and you can lose the battle but ultimately win the war. The Plymouth Westcolour Centurions went toe to toe in a gladiatorial contest with the current Championship League leaders, the Leicester Lions at Leicester on a hot dusty night and lost nothing in a narrow defeat but won all the plaudits and a lot of friends in the process.
With former Leicester skipper Scott Nicholls a member of their double winning 2019 Team coming in as Guest the Westcolour Gladiators went very close to picking up a losing bonus point in a pulsating 48-41 defeat that was full of full blooded action throughout.
Heat 1 required 2 re-runs with Alfie Bowtell falling in the first attempt and Connor Mountain for the Lions; flipping his bike in the re-run and earning an exclusion and having to retire from the Meeting as a result, the third attempt saw Nick Morris beating Scott Nicholls to the line and a 3-2 heat advantage to the home side. The Westcolour Gladiators then suffered an injury of their own with Harry McGurk suffering from what looks like arm and wrist injuries when falling on lap 2, with Lions reserve Dan Thompson winning the race and Lions last minute Guest reserve the in-form Jason Edwards relegating Gladiators Ben Morley to 3rd place. An 8-3 lead after 2 races and with McGurk having to also withdraw from the meeting was in hindsight going to be a handicap that the gallant Westcolour Gladiators could never quite overcome.
Michael Palm-Toft and Ben Barker took advantage of some machine issues for Richie Worrall in Heat 3 to record a 5-1 for the Gladiators and the next 2 heats saw a 4-2 for the Home side and a 4-2 for the Gladiators to maintain the narrow 1 point lead for the Lions at 15-14. Racing continued to be increasingly close and captivating with Palm-Toft and Alfie Bowtell, who delivered easily his best Away form of the season so far winning heats 7 and 8, either side of 4-2 advantages for the Lions, with Ben Morley who rode his heart out on the night twice being passed late in Heats 6 and 8 for vital 3rd places. A monumental battle for 4 laps in Heat 9 finally saw home rider Worrall just get the better of Hans Andersen and after 9 race the Lions had squeezed in to a 5 point lead 29 to 24.
The next 2 Heats were shared with the Westcolour Gladiators pairings packing in to 2nd and 3rd place finishes before Heats 12 and 13 went 4-2 to the Home side and then 4-2 to the Westcolour Gladiators with Scott NIcholls and Hans Andersen gaining their 4-2 advantage over the previously unbeaten Nick Morris and the impressive Kyle Howarth. Michael Palm-Toft roared around both Lions riders to win Heat 14 and with the scores 44-39 in the Lions favour, the Westcolour gladiators knew that a shared 3-3 final Heat at the least would guarantee a well deserved losing bonus point. Morris and Worrall though flew from the start and although Scott Nicholls managed to split them on the second lap he was not able to pass Morris nor was Michael Palm-Toft able to find a way past Richie Worrall.
The final scoreline didn’t really do justice to a monumental Team effort but credit has to go to the whole of the Team. Nicholls led from the front with 12 points from 5 rides, Palm-Toft scored an excellent 10 points from 5 rides, Andersen, Barker and Bowtell offered very solid support and praise too for Ben Morley, who due to McGurks injury had to take 7 rides on a hot and dusty night and his herculean efforts deserved a lot more than 1 point. The Westcolour Gladiators will be left rueing both the absence of the injured Dan Gilkes having been outscored 15 points to 1 at reserve but more pertinently may be the fact that had McGurk been available to take 2 more rides as he would needed to have done, the over-worked Morley may have been able to grab a couple of those vital 3rd places that his efforts deserved being less fatigued than was the case by riding 7 times on the night.
The Westcolour Gladiators and indeed all of the other Play Off contenders especially Leicester will also no doubt be reflecting on the fact that over 2 matches that the Westcolour Gladiators were resounding aggregate winners by 101 points to 78 and whilst there is no longer an extra Bonus Point available in the Sport for Aggregate scores, the rampant table topping Lions will surely be very wary of meeting the Westcolour Gladiators in any two legged Play Off clash at the end of the season. Battles lost but possibly wars won indeed!
The Westcolour Gladiators now move on to an Away Fixture at Birmingham on Wednesday evening and will be very keen to pick up more Away points with an Away win and a bonus point win and two excruciating scores just missing the losing bonus point by the slenderest of margins in probably their two toughest three Away Fixtures all season at Glasgow and now Leicester.
We’ll have Team news and an injury update on Harry McGurk in our Match Preview of the Birmingham Fixture on Wednesday Morning and wish Harry a very speedy recovery.
The Plymouth SWTR Centurions much weakened Team then put up a brave performance in the following NDL Match against the much stronger Lions Cubs Team.
With Alfie Bowtell stepping in to the No 1 slot in the SWTR Centurions side for the injured Dan Gilks and unattached 3 point juniors Ben Phillips and Jacob Fellows, replacing the recent departed Henry Atkins and unavailable Adam Extance respectively, the SWTR Centurions were in damage limitation mode from the start of the meeting.
A resultant 57-32 point defeat in increasingly difficult and dusty conditions was a creditable effort.
Alfie Bowtell recovered from a first Heat fall to score 11 points, Richard Andrews again showed that with increased bike and track time that he can once again be a strong NDL Heat Leader with an excellent and hard fought 8 point return including a few excellent passing moves. Ben Trigger scored a heat win in a 6 point return to his former track and the youngsters Eli Meadows, who was returning to the side after College exams, Phillips and Fellows never stopped trying and together with Connor King did their best under difficult circumstances.
After losing their top 2 riders Gilkes and Atkins, the season for the SWTR Centurions is now all about developing future talent whilst giving as much extra Track time as possible to Bowtell and Morley as possible Guest replacements, until Gilkes is back riding, and to Ben Trigger and whilst the hunt for suitable replacements continues, the SWTR Centurions will return to Track action on Tuesday night with a Home NDL clash against the Oxford Chargers.
At such tough times the lad, especially the youngsters really do need and very much appreciate your support, so please try to come down and support the lads on Tuesday night, remember “Children Under 16 go FREE” and Adults pay a reduced £15 for the NDL and it would be great to see a good Crowd supporting the lds on what looks likely to be a warm and sunny Devon evening.
Online Tickets are available here and you can also pay on the Night by CASH and CARD (please note Card payments will need to be made via your Android phone to the attached link)
We’ll have full Team News and a Preview of the SWTR Centurions v Oxford Chargers Match on Tuesday morning
Lions v The Gladiators
Leicester Lions = 48
1. Nick Morris – 3, 3, 3, 2, 3 = 14
2. Connor Mountain – Fx = 0 (WITHDRAWN)
3. Richie Worrall – R, 2, 3, 3, 1 = 9
4. Joe Thompson – 1, 0, 1 = 2
5. Kyle Howarth – 3, 2, 3, 0 = 8
6. Jason Edwards (G) – 2′, 1′, 1′, 0, 1′ = 5+4
7. Dan Thompson – 3, 1, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2 = 10
Plymouth Gladiators = 41
1. Scott Nicholls (G) – 2, 3, 2, 3, 2 = 12
2. Alfie Bowtell – Fx, 1, 3, 1′ = 5+1
3. Ben Barker – 2′, 0, 2, 2 = 6+1
4. Michael Palm Toft – 3, 3, 1′, 3, 0 = 10+1
5. Hans Andersen – 2, 2, 2, 1 = 7
6. Ben Morley – 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 = 1
7. Harry McGurk – Fx = 0 (WITHDRAWN)
Heat 01: Morris, Nicholls, Mountain (Fx), Bowtell (Fx) 3-2 60.59
Heat 02: D Thompson, Edwards, Morley, McGurk (Fx) 5-1 (8-3) 62.28
Heat 03: Palm Toft, Barker, J Thompson, Worrall (R) 1-5 (9-8) 61.34
Heat 04: Howarth, Andersen, D Thompson, Morley 4-2 (13-10) 61.45
Heat 05: Nicholls, Worrall, Bowtell, J Thompson 2-4 (15-14) 61.56
Heat 06: Morris, Andersen, D Thompson, Morley 4-2 (19-16) 61.28
Heat 07: Palm Toft, Howarth, Edwards, Barker 3-3 (22-19) 61.84
Heat 08: Bowtell, D Thompson, Edwards, Morley 3-3 (25-22) 62.81
Heat 09: Worrall, Andersen, J Thompson, Morley 4-2 (29-24) 61.81
Heat 10: Morris, Barker, Palm Toft, D Thompson 3-3 (32-27) 61.20
Heat 11: Howarth, Nicholls, Bowtell, Edwards 3-3 (35-30) 61.81
Heat 12: Worrall, Barker, D Thompson, Morley 4-2 (39-32) 61.93
Heat 13: Nicholls, Morris, Andersen, Howarth 2-4 (41-36) 61.50
Heat 14: Palm Toft, D Thompson, Edwards, Morley 3-3 (44-39) 62.09
Heat 15: Morris, Nicholls, Worrall, Palm Toft 4-2 (48-41) 61.66
Cubs v Centurions
Leicester Lion Cubs = 57
1. Dan Thompson – 3, 3, 3, 1′ = 10+1
2. Mickie Simpson – 1, 2′, 2, 1 = 6+1
3. Connor Coles – 3, 2, 3, 3, 2 = 13
4. Tom Spencer – R, 0, 2′, 3 = 5+1
5. Joe Thompson – 3, 3, 3, 2, 1′ = 12+1
6. Sam Woods (G) – 2′, 1, F, 1 = 4+1
7. Vinnie Foord – 3, 2′, 1′, 1 = 7+2
Plymouth Centurions = 32
1. Alfie Bowtell (G) – Fx, 3, 2, 3, 3 = 11
2. Ben Trigger – 2, 1, 3, R = 6
3. Richard Andrews – 2, 2, 2, 2, 0 = 8
4. Ben Phillips (G) – 1′, 0, 0, 0 = 1+1
5. Jacob Fellows (G) – 1, 1, 1, 0 =3
6. Eli Meadows – 1, 0, 0, 0 = 1
7. Connor King – F, 0, 0, 2 = 2
Heat 01: D Thompson, Trigger, Simpson, Bowtell (Fx) 4-2 AWARDED
Heat 02: Foord, Woods, Meadows, King (F) 5-1 (9-3) 68.62
Heat 03: Coles, Andrews, Phillips, Spencer (R) 3-3 (12-6) 65.07
Heat 04: J Thompson, Foord, Fellows, King 5-1 (17-7) 64.56
Heat 05: Bowtell, Coles, Trigger, Spencer 2-4 (19-11) 62.47
Heat 06: D Thompson, Simpson, Fellows, Meadows 5-1 (24-12) 62.22
Heat 07: J Thompson, Andrews, Woods, Phillips 4-2 (28-14) 64.06
Heat 08: Trigger, Simpson, Foord, King 3-3 (31-17) 65.47
Heat 09: Coles, Spencer, Fellows, Meadows 5-1 (36-18) 65.08
Heat 10: D Thompson, Andrews, Simpson, Phillips 4-2 (40-20) 63.03
Heat 11: J Thompson, Bowtell, Woods (F), Trigger (R) 3-2 (43-22) 63.72
Heat 12: Coles, Andrews, Foord, Meadows 4-2 (47-24) 64.06
Heat 13: Bowtell, J Thompson, D Thompson, Fellows 3-3 (50-27) 63.15
Heat 14: Spencer, King, Woods, Phillips 4-2 (54-29) 66.22
Heat 15: Bowtell, Coles, J Thompson, Andrews 3-3 (57-32) 63.59
Courtesy of Speedway Updates
Image credit: Jon Sproad.