OXFORD Cheetahs went top of their Jubilee League group with a see-saw draw against Plymouth Gladiators.

The lead changed hands six times on a thrilling night in Devon but a shared final heat saw the southern section clash end all-square at 45-45.

It secured the two points Cheetahs needed to replace Birmingham Brummies at the summit, thanks to their superior race points difference.

They can cement top spot tonight when they host Plymouth in the return meeting at Sandy Lane (7.30pm), although Poole Pirates are just two points behind with two fixtures in hand.

Team manager Peter Schroeck said: “Plymouth is a long way to come, so if we’d left with nothing, we’d have been gutted.

“Instead, we’ve taken two points for an away draw and we’ve got to be happy with that.

“We’ve now got to follow this up by not slipping up and by beating Plymouth at home.

“If we can get another three points against Plymouth, it leaves our destiny in our own hands heading into the two matches against Poole next week, when hopefully Jack Thomas will be back again.

“His left wrist swelled quite badly after riding at Birmingham, but he’s been resting it, and hopefully he will be back next week.”

Cheetahs fell 12-6 behind after a poor start, but secured successive 5-1s in heats four and five.

Troy Batchelor and Nathan Stoneman got the visitors back on track, before Scott Nicholls and Paul Starke combined for another maximum.

Every race from heat three to nine was a maximum for one side or the other, with both teams losing points on a tricky surface.

Cheetahs endured more bad luck when Cameron Heeps suffered an engine failure in heat ten, before Starke fell in the 11th.

Gladiators edged in front but the momentum swung again in the penultimate race when leader Adam Roynon – who guested for the visitors earlier this month - came down, allowing Heeps and Aaron Summers to claim a 4-2.

It meant it was 42-all going into the final heat, with Nicholls and Batchelor taking second and third to secure the draw.

Cheetahs are expected to track the same team tonight.


PLYMOUTH 45: Ben Barker 17+1, Alfie Bowtell 10+1, Ben Morley 9+1, Adam Roynon 4+1, James Wright 3, Connor Coles 2+1, Edward Kennett r/r.

OXFORD 45: Cameron Heeps 11+1, Scott Nicholls 11, Troy Batchelor 9+2, Aaron Summers 6, Paul Starke 5+2, Nathan Stoneman 3+1, Jack Thomas r/r.

Jubilee League points: Plymouth 1, Oxford 2.