Berwick Bandits 48
Somerset Rebels 44
by Keith Hamblin
at Shielfield Park
BERWICK emerged with a league victory over Somerset at Shielfield, but in the end they were made to fight all the way to the finish.
The Bandits at one stage looked as if they were going to run away with it on a rain-soaked track, reeling off six of the first seven race winners to establish what appeared to be an unassailable ten point lead.
The Rebels looked as if they had no appetite for the conditions, but as the meeting progressed they grew in confidence, and inspired by a second race win from reserve Alex Davies in heat eight, they rallied and at the end of the day might have left with more that a solitary losing bonus point.
For they produced seven of the last eight race winners and it was only some determined riding from the back by Berwick skipper Lee Complin and guest Claes Nedermark in the latter stages which saw the home side eke out a four point victory.
Nedermark was drafted in as a replacement for the injured Alex Edberg, who was a surprise visitor to the track after being allowed out of hospital for a few hours to watch.
They also used rider replacement for the missing Josef Franc, but as they stormed into a 26-16 lead, in what can only be described as extremely wet and difficult conditions, meaning riders were often stretched out, the Rebels looked as if they were without a cause.
This was despite a blown engine on the start line for Sebastian lAden in heat one and a burnt out clutch for Mitchell Davey in two, Alden having to ride the rest of the meeting on borrowed equipment from team-mate Kozza Smith.
Smith himself looked in fine form early on, unbeaten in his first three - as was Complin - but suddenly Somerset found their gating and Travis McGowan (three wins) and Sam Masters (two) gave them fresh hope.
Nedermark, in heat nine, was the only Berwick race winner in nine, and it was his pass from the back over James Holder in 12, plus a battling second from Complin over Corey Gathercole in 13 which kept their noses in front.
It went down to a last race decider, Somerset needing a 5-1 for a draw, but despite making a good start, Masters was overhauled by both Complin and Smith and eventually retired at the back, which meant Berwick were able to breath a collective sigh of relief.
After the meeting Berwick team manager Ian Rae said: “After all the rain that fell before the meeting we are just glad to have got some racing on. Conditions were far from ideal, but congratulations must go to all the riders for getting on with the job.
“Our thanks go to guest Claes Nedermark from Newcastle because this was his first ever visit to Shielfield and he did a tremendous job - he was a pleasure to have in our side of the pits.
“But what can we say about Alex (Edberg). Just a week ago he had a serious crash, and he turns up tonight to watch the boys after being allowed out for a few hours by the hospital - totally unbelieveable.
“It shows why the supporters have taken to him and it was great to see that everyone contributed to his collection.”
Berwick - Complin 15, Smith 12+2, Alden 7, Nedermark 7, Mudgway 4+2, Davey 3+2, Franc rider-replacement. Somerset - McGowan 13, Davies 11, Masters 10, Gathercole 6, Holder 3+1, Mellgren 1+1, Haines 0