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Kent Kings 43-47 Thurrock Hammers
Kent Kings 43-47 Thurrock Hammers

There was another last heat decider in front of a goodly-sized crowd at Iwade on Sunday as Kent Kings continued their foray into NORA racing with a local derby against Thurrock Hammers. 

This time though the hosts couldn’t pull out of the bag a successful denouement to proceedings, going down to a narrow 43-47 reverse to their Essex opponents from over the Dartford Crossing in the tenth-staging of the Tunnel Trophy.

The outcome of this match hinged really around two spells in the match at a sun-drenched Old Gun Site where things went against the Kings.  A heavy fall when challenging for the lead for Jack Kingston in his opening ride saw a 5-1 go the way of the Hammers in heat two and then a second calamity for Kingston in heat four when a fuel tap fault saw him splutter to a halt when also in a challenging position, meant that the visitors were able to establish a healthy lead in the opening stanza of the match.

Ben Clifton’s charges rallied though and when the impressive Sam Woods delivered a tapes to flag victory in heat eight (anchored home by skipper Rhys Naylor for a first 5-1 for the homesters), the gap was down to two.

The following race saw Eliott Kelly fall heavily and ended the Yorkshireman’s afternoon and going into heat 12 scores were back to parity: 33-33.

Step forward 15-year-old star of the show, Jamie Etherington who really enhanced his credentials as one of the most talented of the current crop of newcomers to senior racing, with successive race wins in heats 12 and 13 (in both cases 5-1s for the Hammers) and it was now the most uphill of struggles for the home side.

A 5-1 back at the Hammers in the penultimate heat (courtesy of Woods & Kingston) kept hopes alive that an unlikely draw could be snatched in the final race; but despite Etherington this time coming to grief in the initial staging of heat 15, skipper Alfie Bowtell had enough in the tank to take the race win and the Trophy with it, in the conclusion to the match.

Kings’ team boss Ben Clifton commented,

“Unfortunately the Tunnel Trophy is having to pay the Dart Charge this evening, but there’s very little disappointment to be had.  The blazing heat meant the track was very slick today and our guests got the set-ups right early on.  But what won the match for the Hammers was the stella performance from local 15 year Jamie Etherington who really was impressive to watch.

“From a Kings stand point, Sam Woods  racing to two spectacular wins was very pleasing.  Post-meeting it was brilliant to see so many youngsters taking the opportunity to have a track walk, these of course are the future of our sport.”

The Kings are next in action at Iwade on Sunday June 16th. in the Kent/Herts Trophy against the Rye House Rockets – parade at 1.45pm and tapes up at 2pm.


Kent Kings                                              43

Ben Morley   3  2  3  3  2                                  13

Sam Woods  1  0  3  1  3                                   8                     

Jack Kingston  FX  R  2  3  2′                    7+1

Nathan Hargrave  1  1′  1  1  R                 4+1

Rhys Naylor  2  2  2′  2  1′                        9+2

James Laker   0  0  1′  0 1                        4+1

Thurrock Hammers                            47

Alfie Bowtell  2  3  3  3  3                               14

Chris Laidlaw  0  1  0  0  2′                    3+1

Luke Harris  3  3  0  0  1                        7

Connor King   2′  1  1  2  2′  F                8+2

Elliot Kelly  1  1′  FX  Inj.- withdrawn      2+1

Jamie Etherington  3  2  2  3  3  FX       13

Heat details

1 Morley, Bowtell, Woods, Laidlaw  60.1  [4-2]

2 (rerun) Harris, King, Hargrave (fell rem.), Kingston (fell exc.)  62.3  [5-7]

3 Etherington, Naylor, Kelly, Lake  61.8  [7-11]

4 Bowtell, Morley, Laidlaw, Kingston (ret.) 64.7  [9-15]

5 Harris, Naylor, King, Laker  63.6  [11-19]

6 Morley, Etherington, Kelly, Woods  61.4 [14-22]

7 (rerun) Bowtell, Kingston, Hargrave, Laidlaw   60.6  [17-25]

8 Woods, Naylor, King, Harris  67.1 [22-26]

9 (rerun) Kingston, Etherington, Hargrave (fell rem.), Kelly (fell exc.) 64.6  [26-28]

10 Bowtell, Naylor, Laker, Laidlaw (fell)  63.1  [29-31]

11 Morley, King, Woods, Harris 63.6  [33-33]

12 Etherington, Kelly, Hargrave, Laker, 63.9  [34-38]

13 Etherington, Laidlaw, Laker, Hargrave (fell rem.) 65.8  [38-43]

14 Woods, Kingston, Harris, King (fell)  64.9  [40-44]

15 (rerun) Bowtell, Morley, Naylor, Etherington (fell exc.) 62.9  [43-47] 

Pictures supplied by Niall Strudwick Photography.