Super Scorpions on verge of cup final
SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS 59 PETERBOROUGH PANTHERS 31 (CHAMPIONSHIP KNOCKOUT CUP, semi-final, first leg)
LED by a fantastic paid maximum from Jake Allen, Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions put in their best performance of the season, to destroy hapless Peterborough Panthers by 59-31 in the first leg of their semi-final Knockout Cup tie at the Eddie Wright Raceway last night (Friday), and place one foot in the final.
The brilliant victory – which should see Scorpions through to the cup final at second tier level for the first time in the 24 attempts, dating back to 1972 – could be the start of a truly momentous speedway weekend for speedway in Scunthorpe.
Tai Woffinden, who was born in the North Lincolnshire town, heads into the final Grand Prix in Torun, Poland later today (Saturday), with a 10-point lead in the standings over nearest challenger Bartosz Zmarzlik. If successful, Woffy would become the first-ever triple British World Champion. Needless to say, he’s a hero in Scunthorpe.
Last night, Scorpions were in simply irresistible form. In light drizzle throughout, they took lead from a 5-1 from Jason Garrity and Jake Allen in Heat 3 and had extended that lead to 27-15 by the end of Heat 7.
The track was deliberately prepared slick to combat any rain, but still produced some thrilling racing. The battle for minor placings in Heat 12, between Gino Manzares and the Panthers’ pair of Theo Pijper and Simon Lambert had to be seen to be believed, with the revitalised Manzares – enjoying his best night of the season – eventually joining Garrity for a 5-1 after an epic battle.
There was no doubt about the commitment of Scorpions either, as Garrity proved with an outside move on Michael Palm Toft in Heat 9 which took him within a hair’s breadth of his opponent with a quite stunning overtake.
A grandstand finish saw Scorpions take three 5-1s from the last four races, to leave themselves with a 28-point advantage to take to Peterborough for the second leg on Saturday, October 13. While Scorpions realise they still have a job to do at the East Of England Showground and won’t take anything for granted, it does look very positive.
Allen, such a heavy scorer at Scunthorpe this season, deservedly finally scored a paid maximum last night with 13+2. Garrity contributed 12+ 1, while Manzares dropped just a single point to the opposition with 10+4.
Steve Worrall (9), guest Kyle Howarth (8+2) and Stefan Nielsen (7) also had good nights, and the only last places for Scorpions came from Danny Phillips, although he battled in his three rides and was not off the pace.
Maximum man Jake Allen said: “We’ve definitely put ourselves in a strong position after a very good team performance. We’ve got one foot in the final, but we’ve still got to go to Peterborough and do the job there. However, 28 points is a good solid lead to take to an away leg and we’ll be looking to get through, that’s for sure.
“We thought it was going to be tougher, but I think the weather played with the heads of Peterborough, because a few of their riders normally go well around here but were struggling, and we capitalised on that.
“It’s great to finally score a maximum for Scunthorpe. It’s been a long time coming – there’s been a few meetings where I’ve dropped just one point, so it’s good to finally get that monkey off my back. I hope to finish the year with another maximum here in the final.
“With the rain, some of the gates were slicker than others, and in some races, it meant there was some work to do. That meant track-craft came into it, and with it being our home track, we knew what to do, once it became a bit drizzly and a bit slick.”
SCUNTHORPE 59: Jake Allen 13+2 (Paid Maximum), Jason Garrity 12+1, Gino Manzares 10+4, Steve Worrall 9, Kyle Howarth 8+2, Stefan Nielsen 7, Danny Phillips 0.
PETERBOROUGH 31: Tero Aarnio 11, Simon Lambert 9+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 5, Theo Pijper 4, Drew Kemp 1+1, Michael Palm Toft 1, Emil Grondal r/r.
PHOTO: Jake Allen roars under Ulrich Ostergaard.