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Kent Royals hopes given a boost
Kent Royals hopes given a boost

There was another last heat decider at The Old Gun Site on Saturday afternoon, and in a match that swung like a pendulum, out one way then came back the other, this time swung in favour of the Iwade Garage Kent Royals.

The home side taking a 47-43 victory over the Plymouth Centurions in the National League. The opening of the match started out in favour of the Royals as they opened up an early lead in the first four races before the visitors hit back over the next five heats to take the lead themselves. It was in the last few races that the hosts once again turned the match on its head to claim their victory.

The home heroes once again were Max Clegg who raced to his second successive 15-point maximum at home and Ben Morley – who finally lost his home unbeaten run but was still in double figures. The duo lined up for a crucial heat 13 with the scores at 35-37 in favour of the Plymouth Centurions, against the visitors’ guest Nathan Ablitt and the lively Adam Roynon. It was the Kent pairing who gated with Morley allowing Clegg round him to take his fourth win and shut out the hard pressing Ablitt who tried everything he could to split the duo to no avail, the maximum heat advantage put the hosts back in front.

The lead was maintained in a vital heat 14, with reserve pairing Connor King and Chris Watts managing to fill the minor places and take a share of the points. However, that doesn’t do justice to what was a thrilling race between the home pairing and visitors Richard Andrews and comeback man Rhys Naylor. Watts gated first before he was passed by Richard Andrews, then Connor King took up the mantle of challenging race leader Andrews meanwhile at the back, Naylor’s never say die attitude saw him pushing hard until he overcooked the last bend and pirouetted as his bike got away from him.

The hosts led by two into a dramatic Heat 15 and in terms of the riders it was to be a repeat of Heat 13, the only difference being that this time Adam Roynon had the inside gate rather than Ablitt. This move paid dividends as Roynon gated, with Morley in second place and Max Clegg was in third, this result would have been good enough to give the Royals victory but, the hosts were not content to settle for what they had. Clegg moved past his teammate at the start of the third lap and then found some extra drive around the outside and got past Roynon down the back straight. Amongst all of this Ablitt fell on the first bend of the last lap on his own and hadn’t cleared the track as the red lights went on as the riders approached the starting line but in the heat of battle riders hadn’t noticed until practically on top of Ablitt, Clegg managed to lay his bike down and Roynon did well to avoid the rest of the melee but still came down.

Aside from the three dramatic races at the end, there were other positives for the hosts to note, Connor King provided fantastic back up to his senior teammates throughout the meeting with a score 10+4 being his best since he joined the Royals his haul also included a vital 5-1 with Ben Morley in Heat 10. His reserve partner Chris Watts also contributed his season best with 5+1 and looked quicker, even leading the reserves race for a lap before the tenacious Naylor seized his opportunity to pass. The reserves race as a whole was a terrific scrap as Connor King and Plymouth’s David Abraham passed and re-passed for the last place point. Watts was unlucky to suffer a harsh exclusion in heat seven.

There were negatives for The Royals, Sam Woolley took and awkward fall in the eighth heat and although not officially withdrawn from the meeting he did limp uncomfortably around the pits, which will be a cause for concern after his recent ankle injury.

Off track, this afternoon saw the annual collection for the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund and the fantastic total of £688.64 was raised for what is a very worthwhile charity.

Next up for the Royals is a trip to 2019 National League Champions Leicester on Saturday September 3rd that fixture takes place at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena. That is followed in quick time by the next home match, which takes place the following day 4th September, when The Royals host basement side Armadale Devils.

Images courtesy of Oddshots Speedway & Grasstrack Photography