Bandits kick-start their season with first Premier League win

Berwick Bandits48

Redcar Bears44

by Keith Hamblin

BERWICK picked up their first league points of the season when they won their opening home fixture against Redcar.

But in fairness to the Bears, they might have left Shielfield with more than a single losing bonus point, as a shed chain by Jason Lyons, when he was leading coming off the last bend in heat 13, proved pivotal to the final outcome.

For had he managed to stay on his bike for the final 70 yards of the race, the visitors would have secured a draw.

Once again Berwick got off to a slow start, Redcar claiming the first three race winners in Lyons, Adam Roynon and Gary havelock, and with the impressive Matej Kus following havvy home for a 1-5 in three it meant the Bandits found themselves 7-11 down.

When Aarom Summers made the gate in heat four it looked as if worse was to follow, but he seemed to be lacking power in his engine, and when Lee Complin and Jade Mudgway (off the last bend) reeled him in for a 5-1 to level it up at 12-12 it seemed to galvanise the home camp.

First of all Kozza Smith and Josef Franc fired bandits in front with another heat maximum, Charlie Gjedde then picked up his first race win of the night and after Kus and Havelock pulled back another 5-1 for the Bears in seven, two more maximum rides from Hynek Stichauer and Mudgway in eight and Smith and Franc again in nine saw the bandits build up a ten-point advantage at 32-22.

It meant the first use of a double-pointed tactical ride against them this season in nine, but Gjedde made a superb gate ahead of Kus and held him off to restrict the Bears to a 3-5 heat advantage.

Lyons’ second heat win of the night in 11 saw the Bears claw back another two points. Kus did likewise in 12, but the visitors’ hopes were dashed by Lyons’ untimely mishap in 13 which turned a certain 2-4 into a 4-2 and that four-point swing was to prove crucial.

Havelock and Roynon get the edge on Franc in 14 to pull it back to 45-41, forcing a last heat decider.

Kus led the final race from tapes to flag, but Gjedde and Complin tucked in behind him for the match-winning places.

Berwick - Gjedde 10+1, Complin 10+1, Mudgway 7+3, Franc 7+1, Smith 6+2, Stichauer 6, Sike 2. Redcar - Kus 15+1, Havelock 9+1, Roynon 7+1, Lyons 7, Summers 5, Juul 1, Branford 0.

Sheffield Tigers51

Berwick Bandits41

BERWICK were left still searching for their first win, and their first match point of the season, when they went down to a ten point defeat at Sheffield on Thursday.

After opening their season with four successive defeats, including two league reverses at Ipswich and Scunthorpe, Owlerton was probably one of the last tracks the Bandits wanted to visit as their record there over the years has not been the best.

And so it proved once again, as despite having two former Sheffield riders in their ranks (Lee Complin and Josef Franc) they only managed to secure four race victories on the night, and just like some of their earlier meetings, were left chasing the match from a very early stage after they conceded two 5-1s in the first two races.

Bandits hit back with a 5-1 of their own in three when Kozza Smith and Franc took advantage of a retiral by Ricky Ashworth when he was leading.

But with Josh Auty, Ashworth and the evergreen Shane Parker taking the chequered flag in each of the next three, a run of three successive 4-2’s took the Yorkshire side ten in front at 23-13 and suddenly the Bandits were facing another difficult night.

Smith picked up four points as a double-pointed tactical rider in seven, but Auty passed him at the end of the first lap and raced away for his second win in a row.

With bthe Berwick reserve pairing of Jade Mudgway and Tamas Sike having another poor night, wins by Hugh Skidmore and Emiliano Sanchez saw the Tigers extend their lead to 12 at 34-22 after nine.

Franc finally came good with a win in ten, but Auty made it three wins in a row in 11.

Smith won in 12, but after Auty retired when leading in 13, Parker passed Charlie Gjedde for a fine win in 13 which guaranteed overall victory.

Franc took five points from the last two races, losing out to Sanchez in 14, but it wasn;t enough to give the Bandits a losing bonus/

Sheffield - Skidmore 11, Parker 9+2, Auty 9, Sanchez 8, Ashworth 6, Lambert 5, Birks 3+1. Berwick - Franc 11+2, Smith 11, Complin 7+1, Gjedde 7, Stichauer 3+1, Sike 2, Mudgway 1.