REPORT: Oxford Cheetahs 52 Poole Pirates 3821/06/23
Poole suffered their heaviest league loss since May 2022 when they fell to league leaders Oxford by 52-38 in Wednesday's Cab Direct Championship visit to Sandy Lane.
Two unbeaten sides with two league points between them, due only to an indifference in matches ridden, up against each other in front of a large crowd had all the hallmarks of a great night's racing, and the home side looked set to get off to the perfect start until Steve Worrall executed a pass on Cameron Heeps at the start of lap three to restrict Sam Masters' big win to a limiting 4-2 opener, and had Anders Rowe started his attack on Heeps a bit earlier, he might well have been able to square the heat.
An untimely lift by Kyle Newman on the fourth turn of heat two's opening lap allowed Henry Atkins to pull away and suffer no further challenge, it wasn't the case though for Adam Roynon who came under pressure from Ryan Kinsley, but managed to protect third place and share the reserves heat. Ben Cook nearly pulled off a needed heat save at the end of heat three as he and brother Zach paid the price for some sluggish gating that allowed Lewis Kerr and Cameron Heeps to build up a lead. Richard Lawson picked off Atkins at the end of the first lap of heat four but his chasing down of the fast Scott Nicholls resulted in no further reward than his second place, Oxford extending their lead to eight points.
Lawson was called upon straight away to join forces with Worrall but Kerr's intentions were to get clear as quickly as possible and so the tactical substitute only served to stop any further drift in the scores. A tight attacking entry into turn four of the opening lap of heat six saw Atkins lose balance, resulting in his disqualification. But before the riders could settle for the re-start, inexplicably Lawson fired into the tapes, incurring a distance handicap. Once the race got underway for a third time it was very much from the 'gates', with Masters storming to his second win of the night. Nicholls then secured his second unbeaten ride , making it two from two in heat seven in an incident free drawn out race with Kerr, then in heat eight, remaining still second time of asking after picking up a warning, losing out to Newman for three laps, before bringing up his third unbeaten ride.
The long awaited first win for a Pirate was ended by Lawson as he broke two-on-the-trot Kerr's unbeaten spell but Roynon allowed himself to be passed by Heeps enabling Oxford to hold a ten point lead. Zach Cook was sharp away in heat ten and for most of the race Ben was defending second place well, but Masters showed his track craft and just nipped by him in the final few yards to restrict Poole's first heat advantage to a 4-2. Worrall spent the whole of heat eleven keeping the pressure on Nicholls, the Oxford skipper having just won out in the first turn tussle, Rowe plugging third place to keep the deficit at eight.
Poole would have been happy with that level to be honest but when Newman lifted again on the fourth turn it allowed Atkins an opening and he partnered Kerr to the Cheetahs second 5-1 of the night. Cook came on strong in the closing stages however but couldn't quite build up the momentum off the final turn to improve on third place. Masters picked up a warning in heat thirteen and in the re-start Lawson made the running and behind him Worrall was working hard to cling on to second place. But Nicholls, last away, had the scent of prey and he came into the reckoning on the third lap and to the delight of the partisan home fans worked his way by Worrall to put victory on the night beyond the Pirates.
Persistence paid off for Zach Cook in heat fourteen, taking the chequered flag for the second time but Newman couldn't add it his evening's tally and so Poole went into the final heat ten down. The final race took on the line-up of heat thirteen and Lawson again was battling hard but into turn three for the first time, Nicholls ruthlessly came through, made contact sufficient enough to move Lawson off the line but not hard enough to cause any fallers, but effectively put paid to any comeback from the Poole boys, giving the Cheetahs a 14 point advantage when the bonus point comes up for grabs in August.
Sam Masters 3,3,2,0,2'=10+1 (5)
Lewis Kerr 3,3,3,2,3=14 (5)
Cameron Heeps 1,2',0,1',1'=5+3 (5)
Scott Nicholls 3,3,3,2,3=14 (5)
Henry Atkins 3,1,FD,RS,1,0,RS,2',2=9+1 (7)
Ryan Kinsley 0,RS,0,RS,0,RS=0 (3)
Steve Worrall 2,1',2,1,0=6+1 (5)
Anders Rowe 0,TS,0,1'=1+1 (3)
Ben Cook 1,2,1,1=5 (4)
Zach Cook 0,1',3,3=7+1 (4)
Richard Lawson 2,2,1'EH,3,3,1=12+1 (6)
Kyle Newman 2,2,2,RS,0,0=6 (5)
Adam Roynon 1',R,RS,0,RS=1+1 (3)
Ht 1: S.Masters, S.Worrall, C.Heeps, A.Rowe 4-2 4-2 [58.45]
Ht 2: H.Atkins, K.Newman, A.Roynon, R.Kinsley 3-3 7-5 [59.35]
Ht 3: L.Kerr, C.Heeps, B.Cook, Z.Cook 5-1 12-6 [58.56]
Ht 4: S.Nicholls, R.Lawson, H.Atkins, A.Roynon [rtd] 4-2 16-8 [58.72]
Ht 5: L.Kerr, R.Lawson, S.Worrall, C.Heeps, A.Rowe [Tac Subbed] 3-3 19-11 [58.63]
Ht 6: S.Masters, K.Newman, R.Lawson[15m handicap], H.Atkins [fell exc] 3-3 22-14 [59.35]
Ht 7: S.Nicholls, B.Cook, Z.Cook, R.Kinsley 3-3 25-17 [51.19]
Ht 8: L.Kerr, K.Newman, H.Atkins, A.Rowe 4-2 29-19 [60.28]
Ht 9: R.Lawson, L.Kerr, C.Heeps, A.Roynon 3-3 32-22 [59.7]
Ht 10: Z.Cook, S.Masters, B.Cook, H.Atkins 2-4 34-26 [59.94]
Ht 11: S.Nicholls, S.Worrall, A.Rowe, R.Kinsley 3-3 37-29 [59.9]
Ht 12: L.Kerr, H.Atkins, B.Cook, K.Newman 5-1 42-30 [60.34]
Ht 13: R.Lawson, S.Nicholls, S.Worrall, S.Masters 2-4 44-34 [60.01]
Ht 14: Z.Cook, H.Atkins, C.Heeps, K.Newman 3-3 47-37 [60.37]
Ht 15: S.Nicholls, S.Masters, R.Lawson, S.Worrall 5-1 52-38 
SGB Referee: Mr Chris Gay
POOLE won toss and chose gates 2&4 | OXFORD choose gates 1&3 in heat 15
League Points: OXFORD 2 POOLE 0