Newcastle slither to top of League

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The Independent Online
The competitive nature of the Super League, where a handful of top rather than traditional teams compete, was vindicated over the weekend when Ayr Scottish Eagles, unbeaten until last week's round of matches, lost for the second time in four days and Newcastle Cobras went to the head of the table courtesy of Bracknell Bees beating Sheffield Steelers, 5-1, then succumbing to the Cobras, 7-0, writes Steve Pinder.

Ayr lost 4-2 against Manchester last Thursday and then christened Nottingham Panthers' new plexiglass surround by winning 6-3 on Saturday. They hosted Cardiff Devils on Sunday and looked a tired unit in losing 8-2. Ivan Matulik's hat-trick in the last 10 minutes emphasised tired legs and bruised bodies rather than a mismatch.

Bracknell upset predictions in travelling to the Sheffield Steelers' Arena and handing out a 5-1 thrashing. The Steelers, last year's Cup, League, Championship winners, had not lost at home since 1994, yet found themselves 5-0 down with 15 minutes to play.

It was no surprise that lightning did not strike twice for the Bees, who were completely shut out on Sunday by Newcastle.