Berwick Bandits 43
Rye House Rockets 41
by Keith Hamblin
at Shielfield Park
WHO says lightning doesn’t strike twice?
The last time Rye House visited Shielfield the meeting was halted after 14 races because of the 9.30pm curfew - just as Berwick had taken the lead for the first time.
On this occasion it was virtually deja vu, with once again the meeting only lasting 14 heats before the curfew kicked in - and again Bandits had just taken a two point lead.
This was a meeting both sides will probably claim they could and should have won, for both were denied vital points at various stages throughout the night.
Berwick, who started the evening with only two of their regular septet, gave a debut to new signing Linus Eklof, but the Swede only lasted about 10 seconds before he crashed out just two thirds of a lap into his first race.
Luke Bowen fell as he entered the third bend in heat three, and Eklof ploughed into the back of him at high speed, being thrown from his machine.
There was a lengthy delay whilst he received treatment from paramedics for a head knock and he was eventually stretchered from the track before being transferred to hospital by ambulance.
Down to only five riders, that meant a busy night for reserves Jade Mudgway and guest Adam McKinna who were forced into seven outings apiece.
Both showed some battling qualities at times, but it was another guest, Kevin Doolan, who was predominantly at the front, and the never-say-die Lee Complin who really carried the fight.
Rye House went into the meeting without Chris Neath, but five of their six riders managed to take the chequered flag throughout the night and this meant they were always in contention.
The first four races were all shared before the Rockets took a two point lead after four courtesy of Steve Boxall and Ritchie Hawkins.
Berwick hit straight back with a 5-1 in the next through Doolan and Mudgway, but not before the New Zealander had a close encounter with Jordan Frampton up the back straight.
Complin and McKinna then both came from the back for a 4-2 in seven but at 23-19 it was still too close to call.
Rye House pegged back a 4-2 in the next and when Frampton pipped McKinna in a race for the line in nine the scoremoved on to 28-26 and it was obvious the meeting was going to the wire.
Boxall fell in ten as Berwick took a 4-2, but two successive 5-1s from Rye House, after Complin fell whilst chasing hawkins hard in 11, saw the visitors establish a 34-38 lead and it looked as if the Rockets might steal a win.
However, Complin, who was in some pain, defied medical advice and rode on in heat 13, passing both Frampton and Hawkins for a 5-1 with Doolan which levelled the scores up at 39-all.
By now the clock was starting to tick down and when guests Ricky Wells and McKinna took a 4-2 in 14, split by Boxall, after Tyson Nelson fell in second place on the fourth lap, Berwick edged two in front just as referee Mick Bates called a halt to proceedings.
After the meeting it was confirmed Eklof, following examination at hospital, was not seriously injured, and Berwick are now hoping that he will be fit enough to race at Ipswich tonight (Thursday, September 22) and against the Edinburgh Tartan Army at Shielfield on Saturday.
Team manager Ian Rae said: “It was a strange and difficult meeting. We were short-handed because of injuries and riders away, so we had to strengthen up with guests.
“Rye were also missing one of their top riders, and then of course Linus crashed out in his first race, which was not the start he or we were hoping.
“It put a lot o+f pressure on the rest of the lads, but they rallied well and there was some good racing, especially from the likes of Lee (Complin) who had to win all his points from the back.”
Berwick - Doolan 11, Complin 10+1, Wells 9+2, Mudgway 7+2, McKinna 6+1, Eklof 0, Franc rider rep; Rye House - Hawkins 10, Boxall 10, Nelson 9+2, Frampton 9+1, Bowen 3, Brundle 0, Neath rider rep.