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Oxford Chargers 64-26 Kent Royals
Oxford Chargers 64-26 Kent Royals

A trip to the City of Dreaming Spires turned into a nightmare for the Kent Royals as they went down to a heavy defeat to National Development League leaders Oxford Chargers, 64-26 at the Sandy Lane circuit on Wednesday night.

The problems for Kent at Oxford started 24 hours earlier when heat leader Nathan Ablitt was involved in two crashes in Tuesday night’s Oxford v Scunthorpe SGB Championship and after seeking medical advice yesterday morning was ruled out of the Kent line up.

A last-minute scramble for a rider, saw regular Iwade second half rider Nathan Hargrave drafted in and thrown in at the deep end, arriving shortly before 7pm and being straight out in the very first race.

Manager Jamie Willis spoke after the meeting saying “Obviously losing Nathan Ablitt on the morning of the meeting caused us massive issues. Luckily, we were able to redeclare our line up to keep us as strong as possible.”

Already without Jack Kingston and Rhys Naylor, the rider replacement facility was switched from Naylor, to Ablitt, this allowed fellow heat leaders Ben Morley and Tom Woolley to take extra rides along with guest Freddy Hodder. 

Willis continued “A massive thank you must go to Nathan Hargrave who took our SOS call and left work early and rushed to Oxford to help us out. I was so pleased to see him score points in his opening ride.”

And that opening ride in the first heat saw Kent get a share of the spoils as Oxford number one Jordan Jenkins suffered engine problems on the opening lap, but his teammate Jody Scott took up the lead and rode a terrific race to keep Kent’s number one Ben Morley behind him for all four laps despite being put under pressure. 

The Chargers took the lead in the second race and that is where they stayed. Try as The Royals might their hosts were just too strong. There was early resilience in Heats four and five as firstly Tom Woolley and Connor King packed the minor places before Ben Morley held his nerve in the early stages to get over both Ryan Kinsley and Luke Killeen to get a convincing race win.

That was as good as it got for Kent as Oxford then racked up six straight maximum heat advantages from heats six through to eleven leaving The Chargers thirty points up and the victory sealed that moved them five points clear at the top of the table. 

The meeting ended in controversial style; the first running of Heat 15 saw Oxford’s Henry Atkins attempt an inside move on Ben Morley which resulted in the visiting rider hitting the deck.

The home rider was disqualified from the re-run which finished as a shared heat. For the Royals it was Morley who did the bulk of the scoring with 10 points from his six rides and middle order duo captain Tom Woolley and guest Freddy Hodder battled for six and five points respectively. 

Reflecting on the fixture, Jamie Willis said “We knew Oxford are an extremely strong side so full credit to them on the win. The six back-to-back 5-1s absolutely killed us. Saying that however, we never once gave up which was pleasing to see.”

“We have two massive meetings remaining which will define our season more than tonight’s result will, so we dust ourselves down and prepare for them.”