Bandits snatch defeat from jaws of victory

Newcastle Diamonds 47

Berwick Bandits 43

BERWICK saw two league points slip from their grasp when they let Newcastle steal a last gasp victory at Byker on Sunday.

The Bandits made their second visit to the Tyneside track in a fortnight, and after going down to an eight-point defeat on the last occasion, they must have thought they were on a revenge mission when they took a six-point advantage with only three races remaining.

But from 39-33 in front they let the Diamonds off the hook, the home side coming back with two 5-1s and 4-2 in the last three heats to literally snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Berwick had the satisfaction of taking a losing bonus point, but after being in such a good position as the meeting entered its final stages that will be of little consolation to the riders . . . or the frustrated fans.

The fact that Berwick actually provided nine of the 15 race winners shows just how much of a stranglehold they had on the match.

Swede Linus Eklof again showed his liking for the smaller tracks when he dropped only one point in his first five outings, whilst Lee Complin carried on from where he left off the night before against Workington by storming to victory in each of his first three races.

Sebastion Alden also won two races, with Josef Franc the other rider taking the chequered flag.

But despite their apparent domination, this was always a close, tense affair.

Newcastle stole an early march with a 5-1 in the opening race. The next five races were all shared 3-3 and at 20-16 the Diamonds still had the edge.

But in heat seven Newcastle guest Steve Worrall fell after making the gate and was excluded.

Franc and Eklof gated ahead of Claes Nedermark in the re-run and the 5-1 saw the scores levelled up at 21-all.

Another two drawn heats, won by the impressive Eklof and Complin, saw the score move on to 27-27, before Berwick took the lead for the first time in ten when Franc came from the back, passing both Mark Lemon and Derek Sneddon for a 5-1 which put the Bandits 32-28 in front.

Alden won in 11 before Eklof won again in 12, with Mitchell Davey passing Ritchie Worrell and holding him off all the way to the line for a 4-2 which extended the advantage to six.

But then the wheels came off.

First of all Complin and Alden surrendered a 5-1 to Lemon and Sneddon in 13, both Diamonds making the gate.

Then Stuart Robson and Ritchie Worrell were split by Franc in 14, levelling it up at 42-42 with just one race remaining.

It was still anybody’s match, but Berwick’s heat 15 curse struck again with Complin and Eklof both trailing in behind Lemon and Nedermark as the Geordies celebrated what only a few races earlier had seemed like an unlikely victory.

After the meeting Berwick manager Ian Rae was naturally tinged with disappointment when he said:

“I thought we had this meeting won, but all credit to Newcastle for the way in which they stuck to their task.

“In the final few races, when it really mattered, they showed us how to ride with a sense of determination.

“But in saying that our efforts thoroughly merited our bonus point.

“Linus, Lee and Seb were all outstanding for us and in many respects we definitely led from the front. It was a great meeting but we have to be disappointed that we did not come away with more than a point.”

Newcastle - Lemon 10+1, Nedermark 10+1, Robson 10, R Worrell 8+4, Sneddon 8+2, S Worrell 1+1, Newman rider/rep: Berwick - Eklof 12+2, Complin 11, Franc 9+1, Alden 7, Davey 3, Mudgway 1+1, Lindgren rider/rep.