GB men’s eight hold off Australians to book place in tomorrow’s final

Henley Steward and 1992 Olympic gold medallist Greg Searle, on the Olympic comeback trail after a ten-year break, was part of the GB men’s eight that held off Australia in today’s semi-finals of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta to win in 5:59.The GB eight, stroked by Dan Ritchie and coxed by Phelan Hill, will now face the German World Champions in tomorrow’s final in what should prove a re-run of their close-fought World final last Autumn. Germany came through from their semi-final today after a stern test from the American eight.Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells were in jubilant mood after winning their semi-final of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, setting a course record of 6:50 in the process.   “We are going well as a crew and feeling great. Bring it on”, said Wells of the British crew’s final tomorrow against reigning Olympic champions David Crawshay and Scott Brennan of Australia.Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed were comfortable against the Gkountoulas twins of Greece in their men’s pair semi-final. The British World silver medallists now face the Italian duo, who were world cup silver medallists in May, in the final of the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge Cup.The Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours saw a major upset today when the fancied Australian crew, with the legendary Drew Ginn on board, went down to the USA’s top four by three-quarters of a length.   Britain’s four will be America’s opponents tomorrow. The quartet of Ric Egington, Matt Langridge, Tom James and Alex Gregory looked very much on song today.The American women’s eight were in complete control of their Remenham Challenge Cup semi-final today, beating a British crew containing U23 oarswomen and will now face the British national squad eight tomorrow.In the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for quadruple sculls the British crew’s victory over another strong USA entry was impressive. Stephen Rowbotham, Bill Lucas, Tom Solesbury and Sam Townsend have booked a place to meet Croatia’s reigning World Champions, who beat Australia impressively today.The verdict in the big inter-University men’s eight semi-final today in the Temple Challenge Cup went the way of the University of California, Berkeley, who beat their rivals Harvard by a length and a quarter. Racing starts at 11.30am tomorrow with the prize giving at 16.30.For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387