Bandits outshone by Diamonds in opener

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by Keith Hamblin

BERWICK’S new-look side failed to deliver when they were beaten home and away by old rivals Newcastle in their season-opening Tyne Tweed Challenge at the weekend.

The Bandits went down 43-50 with a disappointing display in front of a big crowd at Shielfield on Saturday, and on Sunday they lost out 49-44, the Diamonds retaining the trophy by a 12 point aggregate score.

Afterwards team manager Ian Rae admitted his side had been second best over the two legs and he said that Newcastle had emerged worthy winners.

“But the serious action starts this week,” he said, with reference to Berwick’s two opening Premier League fixtures, away to Ipswich on Thursday and Scunthorpe on Friday.

“Everybody was a little rusty going into the matches against Newcastle, but hopefully we have blown away the cobwebs and will be up to speed for what will be two very difficult meetings for us. Ipswich are bound to be amongst the title favourites this year. They have a good side, but hopefully we can catch them cold.

“The same goes for Scunthorpe, who are never easy to beat around their own track.”

Berwick Bandits43

Newcastle Diamonds 50

BERWICK failed to get their season off to the start the club and the fans had hoped for when they were beaten by old rivals Newcastle in the first leg of the Tyne Tweed Trophy at Shielfield on Saturday.

There were high expectations in the Bandits’ camp and amongst their followers, but it was the Diamonds who shone brightest and deservedly took a seven point lead into the second leg at Byker.

From the moment new boys Charlie Gjedde and Hynek Stichauer conceded a 1-5 in the opening race to Derek Sneddon and Rene Bach, Berwick were on the back foot.

And when Richie Worrell, in his first ever race at the Border track, popped out of the start to win heat two, Kyle Newman edging past Tamas Sike off the last bend for a 2-4, it was obvious things weren’t going according to plan.

Josef Franc responded with two early victories in three and five, but he was the only Bandit to match the visitors out of the gate, and with Mark Lemon in imperious form as he romped to an effortless 15-point maximum, Berwick always looked as if they were going to come off second best.

Jade Mudgway put up some fight, scoring well in each of his five outings, but Newcastle, with six of their riders either winning races or taking paid victories, were the dominant force throughout and with the Bandits only providing four of the 15 race winners it was obvious where the problems lay.

A second 1-5 from Sneddon and Bach in 11 over Lee Complin and Sike, put the Diamonds ten in front at 28-38, but Kozza Smith (in a double-pointed tactical ride) and Mudgway, who both forced their way through from the back, claimed an 8-1 to reduce the deficit to three at 36-39.

However, Newcastle, despite losing Stuart Robson after a clash with Smith in heat 15, finished the stronger, and two wins from Lemon in 13 and 15 set the seal on their victory.

Berwick - Mudgway 11+1, Franc 10+2, Smith 8, Gjedde 7, Complin 4+1, Stichauer 3+2, Sike 0. Newcastle - Lemon 15 (max), Sneddon 9+1, Robson 8, Bach 7+2, Tomicek 5+1, Worrall 5, Newman 1.

Newcastle Diamonds49

Berwick Bandits44

BERWICK suffered their second defeat at the hands of Newcastle within the space of 24 hours when they went down 49-44 at Byker on Sunday, losing out by 12 points on aggregate.

Once again the Diamonds virtually led from start to finish, and for the second night running it was only a double-pointed tactical victory, this time by Josef Franc in heat 14, which kept the scoreline tighter than it might otherwise have been.

Mark Lemon was again in fine form for the home side, the Australian dropping just one point when he was beaten by Hynek Stichauer in heat 11.

Berwick’s only other race winners on the night were Dane Charlie Gjedde, who won his first two outings in one and five, and skipper Lee Complin, who took the chequered flag in six, but thereafter Gjedde played second fiddle to Lemon who headed him in each of their three subsequent clashes, and it was the outcome of these three races on which the meeting effectively hinged.

Newcastle eased in front when they took a 5-1 from heat two. Gjedde and Stichauer reduced the deficit to two at 16-14 when they were split by Stuart Robson in five, and with the next two races shared 3-3 it was still close at 22-20 after seven.

But after Jade Mudgway fell and was excluded in eight, Newcastle surged ahead with a run of three 4-2s which put them 34-26 in front and well on the way to victory.

Stichauer’s win over Lemon in 11 stemmed the tide slightly, but the Diamonds were again the dominant force and had it not been for ‘Pepe’s’ six-point win in 14 the margin of defeat would have been all the greater.

Newcastle - Lemon 14, Sneddon 9+1, Robson 8, Tomicek 6, Bach 5+1, Newman 4+1, Worrall 3+1. Berwick - Franc 12+2, Gjedde 10, Complin 7, Stichauer 6, Smith 5+1, Mudgway 4+2, Sike 0.