Devils fail to deliver as rain again stops play at Berwick

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Berwick Bandits 52

Plymouth Devils 20

by Keith Hamblin

at Shielfield Park

THIS was effectively as one sided a meeting as you are likely to see anywhere.

Berwick were completely dominant throughout, the result was never in any doubt, but for the second week running proceedings were halted after only 12 heats because of the weather.

It would be fair to say that conditions were far from ideal. The track was wet and heavy after showers throughout the day. Half an hour before racing was due to start it started to drizzle again.

Some teams might have refused to ride, but because of the distances involved, and the expense of bringing everyone back for a one-off meeting, it was decided to press ahead, and both sets of riders are to be congratulated for that.

But it was clear from the off that Plymouth were not up for the fight. They were slow out of the gates, and once in front it was so difficult to see what was happening behind that riders found it impossible to try and pass.

As a result racing was processional and drawn out.

Sebastian Alden made a good gate in heat one and beat the league’s top rider, Ben Barker, into second place with consumate ease.

But Barker pulled up at the start in his second ride with a recurring back injury, he was withdrawn from the meeting and once he had gone the Devils lost any chance they had of gaining even a foothold.

Reserve Jamie Courtney, in for the absent James Cockle, won heat two, and Ricky Wells also took the chequered flag in eight. But apart from that the visitors had little to offer and Bandits enjoyed a bumper pay night.

In all they raced to ten heat advantages, eight of them yielding 5-1s, and the result was a foregone conclusion from a very early stage. Four home riders - Alden, Josef Franc, Kozza Smith and Lee Complin - all were unbeaten, and reserve Mitch davey only dropped one point from his three starts.

Despite the weather some decent times were posted by the winning riders in the early part of the meeting, but with rain continuing to fall these got progressively slower as the night went on and it came as no surprise when referee Dave Dowling called a halt after heat 12, the result standing.

After the meeting Davey, who has had a tough time as of late, said it was good to be back amongst the points again.

“I think I had only scored three points in my last four home meetings,” he said, “so it was getting me down a bit.

“There wasn’t any pressure being placed on my from the management or the promotion - they gave me every encouragement, but it was putting pressure on myself.

“It’s a two hour drive home and on the way I have been playing everything over in my mind, trying to work out what has been going wrong and where I can improve things.

“Thankfully, it was a bit better tonight. I spoke to some of the guys in the team and I upped the compression on my bike. They also told me to get a bit higher and wider on the track as it was affecting my speed, and tonight, although the conditions were aweful, I thought I was attacking it more.”

Davey, after scores of 0,0,2 and 1 in his last four Shielfield meetings, bounced back with 7+1 (2, 3 2*) from his three outings in the rain-affected match against Plymouth.

“I know you can only race against what is in front of you on the track,” he said, “but it did feel better tonight.

“When I first came here I did reasonably well. I then had a dip, but I went to Somerset the other week and scored 10 paid 11, so I knew I had it in me.

“Hopefully I can now start to kick on from here. We are entering the final quarter of the season and all I want to do it try and score as many points as I can, hopefully getting back to somewhere near where I was when I first came to Berwick.”

After two successive rain-hit meetings at Shielfield, the Berwick promotion have decided to cut the price of a programme to £1 for next Saturday’s visit of Sheffield - on production of Saturday’s programme against Plymouth.

“It’s only a small gesture,” said promoter John Anderson, “but it shows that we are appreciative of the fans for their continued support in what has been a difficult few weeks for us.”

Berwick - Alden 9, Franc 9, Smith 8+4, Mudgway 8, Complin 7+2, Davey 7+1, Lindgren 4. Plymouth - Courtney 6, Wells 5, Kristiansen 4, Franchetti 3, Barker 2, Sedgman 0, Smart - rider/rep.