Hawks begin new era by teaching Eagles how to fly

Team beat USA touring side 66-25 in convincing win

The Hawks’ new era began with a totally dominant performance against an American touring team, with three Hackney riders going through the card and the rest of the side also contributing freely.

Ben Hopwood reeled off five effortless victories for his maximum, with any preconceptions that he has been brought into the side purely for his abilities on the larger away tracks being dismissed by his instant prowess on the Rye House circuit.

There were also maximums for Ben Morley and new Hawks No.1 Barrie Evans.

Elsewhere, Marc Owen was undefeated following a surprise last place in his opening ride, and Shane Hazelden’s record was also unblemished following a heat two fall.

Captain David Mason picked up steam as the night wore on, while it proved an excellent team debut for 15-year-old Brandon Freemantle. The British under-15 champion won his first ride at this level, followed home team-mate Owen in his next and finished with a paid seven.

His only down-point came when he had to be treated by medical staff after pulling up abruptly on the second bend of heat 14 when he appeared to have been struck by his chain which had come loose.

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The Hawks essentially did as they pleased, providing the race winner in all 15 heats and blasting no less than nine maximum scorelines in the process.

It was a performance that will have brought a smile to Saturday’s special guest Barrie Thomas. The original 20-year Hackney legend raised the biggest cheer of the night when completing a couple of laps during the pre-meeting parade. The tourists looked a pale version of the ‘Dream Team’ that unleashed the likes of Kenny Ingalls and Tyson Burmeister on an unsuspecting public at Rye House a year ago.

Their mixture of veterans and up-and-coming youngsters was simply no match for a rampant Hawks side, and even mainstays Eddie Castro and Shawn McConnell struggled to get going.

‘Fast Eddie’, who had impressed in last year’s match, hit problems with a machine failure at the start line in heat one, and although producing a successful from-the-back charge against Brandon Freemantle when handicapped by a 15-metre penalty for tapes touching in heat 11, managed just six points overall.

The ‘Mad Dog’, meanwhile, suffered two early falls which restricted his tally to just four. There were flashes of potential from 16-year-old Joey Holt, who kept Marc Owen behind him in heat four and finished with a top-scoring paid seven, but that was about it for the Eagles.

The Hawks will face far stiffer opposition in the National League campaign on which they are now embarking, but in fairness could only beat the opposition that was laid out in front of them.

The Hawks’ first home League match will be at Lakeside on Good Friday (April 22) when they face Stoke in the second part of a double-header that opens with the Elite League clash between the Hammers and Eastbourne.

Their next home fixture at Rye House will be on Saturday, April 30, when they come up against a Belle Vue Colts side that includes 2008 NLRC runner-up Byron Bekker, 2009 British under-21 and under-15 silver medallist Kyle Howarth and 2008 under-15 champion Jason Garrity.

The Hackney Hawks will field two representatives at tomorrow’s British under-21 final at Lakeside.

Marc Owen, 16, will be appearing in his second national final, after previously placing fifth in the 2009 British under-18 Championship. He also finished in the same position in the 2008 under-15 series.

It will also be a second ‘Big Night’ experience for 17-year-old Shane Hazelden, who was part of the field for last season’s under-18 final. Like Owen, he also has further national competition experience, having finished sixth in the 2007 under-15 series. Owen and Hazelden will meet head-to-head in their opening rides in heat four, which will also feature Sheffield’s Ashley Birks and defending British under-21 Champion Joe Haines.

The full draw, in riding order, is: 1. Jerran Hart, 2. Tai Woffinden, 3. Steve Worrall, 4. Kyle Howarth, 5. Jaimie Pickard, 6. Paul Starke, 7. Josh Auty, 8. Joe Jacobs, 9. Jason Garrity, 10. Ashley Morris, 11. Brendan Johnson, 12. Kyle Newman, 13, Ashley Birks, 14. Marc Owen, 15, Shane Hazelden, 16, Joe Haines.