Hackney Hawks crash out of cup competition
Hackney 42 Mildenhall 50 (agg: 74-110)
Hackney’s involvement in this season’s National League Knock-Out Cup ended at the first stage last Saturday as Mildenhall completed a home and away double to qualify for the next round by a hefty 36 point margin.
The Hawks needed a strong opening surge to give themselves any hope of pulling back a 28 point first leg deficit, but it was Mildenhall who shot into the lead with a 5-1 from James Brundle and Aaron Baseby to quickly kill the tie. The Fen Tigers rapidly pushed their advantage up to eight points and had the aggregate victory mathematically assured as early as heat eight.
Former league riders Champions David Mason and Barrie Evans did their best to stem the tide, with five wins and 28 paid points between them. The two Bens - Hopwood and Morley - offered fairly solid support, although Morley’s evening brought to a premature end with a swollen knee suffered when falling outside Jack Hargreaves in heat nine, while it proved a troubled night for the rest of the team as the Hawks finished with a long tail.
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Five race wins out of 15 at home - and just one on-track heat advantage - does not make for pretty reading.
Mildenhall, in contrast, looked solid throughout, and fielded the individual stars of the match in James Brundle and Joe Jacobs, who shone at either end of the visitor’s spectrum. Number one Brundle lived up to his reputation for lightning starts and was beaten only by Barrie Evans in heat 13, with the Hackney number five striking again to inflict Jacobs’ only loss of the night when surging past the 17-year-old in the final race.
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The Fen Tigers’ reserve then fell on the last bend to gift Evans and partner Mason a consolation 5-1.
Mildenhall will now meet the Isle of Wight in the Semi-Finals. The other tie will be between Dudley and Stoke.
The Islanders will return the favour on Friday (June 17th) in the return clash at the Hawks’ Lakeside nest, which will bring into play the likes of 2010 Rocket and 2011 British U-21 British Finalist Paul Starke, seventh year Islander and former Exeter Falcon Nick Simmons, two year Cobra Rob Smith and British under-18 Champion Brendan Johnson.
The action at the Arena-Essex Raceway gets underway at 8pm.
Hackney scorers: Hazelden 2+1 (4), Hopwood 6 (4), *Mason 14+1 (5), Owen 1 (3), Evans 12+1 (5), Freemantle 2+2 (5), Morley 5+1 (4) * includes double point ride.
A revised date for the Hackney Hawks’ home match at Lakeside against Buxton has now been agreed. The Hitmen will visit the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday, July 15th (8pm start).