Berwick Bandits 47
Sheffield Tigers 41
by Keith Hamblin
at Shielfield Park
BERWICK won an incident packed meeting at Shielfield on saturday night to effectively end Sheffield’s title hopes.
But at the end of the night all thoughts were with Bandits’ reserve Mitchell Davey, who took a nasty looking tumble in heat two and was taken to hospital for further medical treatment.
The Australian looked as if he was trying to go back around the outside of Simon Lambert after the Tiger had gone in hard underneath him entering the third bend on the second lap.
Davey crashed into the safety fence and somehow was thrown over it landing between the barrier and the outer retaining wall.
Lambert was excluded by referee Craig Ackroyd, but there was a lengthy delay, over 45 minutes, whilst Davey was treated by paramedics. He was then stretchered to a waiting ambulance and transferred to hospital for further examination.
This meant Berwick, who had started the meeting with only six riders - they were missing the injured Kozza Smith and Josef Franc who was riding longtrack in Europe - were suddenly down to five.
It meant a busy night for Jade Mudgway in particular, who took seven rides, whilst guest Aaron Summers had five and Ludvig Lindgren six.
Sheffield, who knew they needed a win to keep their slender hopes of catching Glasgow in the race for the league championship alive, tried their best.
Ricky Ashworth, whose movement at the starts certainly didn’t endear him to the fans, responded with four straight victories. Evergreen Shane Parker, on what could be his last Shielfield appearance, and Josh Auty both won two apiece, and with Ashley Birks taking the chequered flag in the re-run of two, it meant the visitors actually produced nine of the 15 race winners.
But two 5-1s from the Sebastian Alden - Lindgren pairing in the first five heats, along with another 5-1 from Lee Complin and Mudgway in three, meant Berwick took a nine point lead at 22-13.
Ashworth and Parker tried to haul the Tigers back into contention, but all the Berwick riders made a major contribution to the meeting and after 11 races the nine point gap remained at 37-28.
Sheffield, with Auty a surprise winner in 13, clawed back some of the deficit, but when Berwick took a 4-2 from heat 14, with Mudgway and Emiliano Sanchez passing and re-passing each other on successive laps, Berwick went into the last race 45-38 in front.
The meeting was won, but Sheffield still had a chance of a losing bonus point nif they could take a heat advantage.
To the delight of the home crowd, Ashworth, who was unbeaten to that stage, broke the tapes and was handicapped 15m. In the re-run his bike failed as he approached the start line and he was excluded, seeming handing Berwick the extra point.
But as the riders went to the tapes for a third time Alden’s bike failed to get off the start line, Auty beat Lindgren in a two-man race and the Tigers took the bonus after all.
After the meeting Berwick skipper Lee Complin said: “It’s been another difficult night. We were already without Kozza (who broke in shoulder whilst riding for King’s Lynn in midweek) and ‘Pepe’ (Josef Franc (who was riding longtrack) so to lose Mitch so early in the meeting was another blow.
“It was difficult for the team, and the fans, but I am glad the supporters stuck with us. We managed to get the win, which is always nice, but naturally our thoughts are with Mitch and we hope that his injuries are not too serious.”
Berwick - Summers 12, Lindgren 11+2, Complin 9, Mudgway 8+3, Alden 7+1, Davey 0, Smith rider rep; Sheffield - Ashworth 12, Auty 10, Parker 8, Sanchez 4, Birks 3, Lambert 2+1, Skidmore 2.