Bandits’ much-needed home win marred by Bridger crash

Lewis Bridger in action against Workington before he crashed out.
Lewis Bridger in action against Workington before he crashed out.

Berwick Bandits picked up a welcome home victory over Workington at Shielfield on Saturday, but lost out to Glasgow when they faced the Tigers at Ashfield on Sunday.

The win over the Comets was only the Bandits’ second in the league this season, but was earned at a cost when Lewis Bridger, after winning his first three races, crashed out in heat 11.

He was withdrawn from the meeting and missed the trip to Glasgow where the Borders had to use no fewer than three guests.

Nick Morris enjoyed a successful weekend, picking up paid 25 points over the two meetings, and he earned a new army of fans with a memorable exhibition of team-riding with Jye Etheridge in heat ten at Shielfield when he protected him over four pulsating laps.

“The meeting was tight at that stage,” he said afterwards. “Jye was starting to tire, so I kept looking out for him and covered his back all the way to the line.

“It was such a good feeling to finally get a win under our belts because it has been a long time coming.

“I got off to a slow start when I first came to Berwick, but in fairness the weather meant that the track wasn’t the best, but over the past couple of weeks I have been able to get dialled in and picked up a few points.”

Morris, who also rides for Swindon in the Premiership, is also racing on the continent and he says he is enjoying being busy.

“It wasn’t like this last year,” he said, “so I am really enjoying racing as much as I am at the moment.

“From a Berwick point of view, hopefully this win will help give the team a bit more confidence to go on and build on this.”

Berwick 48

Workington 44

Berwick recorded only their second league win of the season with a hard earned victory in an entertaining meeting against Workington.

The Comets had the satisfaction of leaving with the losing bonus point, but will look to a shed chain by the otherwise unbeaten Craig Cook when he was leading heat one as a missed opportunity to make the scoreline even closer.

Lewis Bridger started the meeting like a train, winning his first three rides, before a heavy fall in his fourth race ended his night.

Kevin Doolan and Nick Morris, who produced one of the rides of the season, also contributed well.

But it was reserve Jye Etheridge, just a few weeks after breaking his shoulder, who emerged as the Bandits’ match-winner, taking the chequered flag in three of his last four races as Berwick hung on despite a spirited Comets’ fight-back.

This included a memorable heat 10 when he was shepherded home by fellow Aussie Morris, who produced a selfless ride to sneak a vital 5-1 which stretched the home lead to ten points for a second time.

Berwick had originally built up a ten-point lead at 23-13 after six, in the main down to two 5-1s from guest Todd Kurtz and Doolan in heat three and Morris and Doolan in six.

Bridger produced a high speed pass on Tactical ride Ty Proctor in seven, and with former Bandit Thomas Jorgensen finally getting his act together in nine, the deficit was cut to six at 31-25.

But Morris team-rode Etheridge for four superb laps of speedway in ten, although the Comets hit straight back with a 1-5 from Cook and Mason Campton in the re-run of 11 after Bridger fell heavily on the first bend, second lap, trying to go around the outside.

Another 2-4 in 13, with Cook again winning in style ahead of the chasing Morris, cut the gap further to four at 42-38, but Etheridge’s third win if the night in 14, giving Berwick a 4-2 with Doolan, meant they were guaranteed the victory.

Workington still had the losing bonus to aim for, and they duly collected it when Cook raced to his fourth win if the night in 15, again ahead of Morris, with Jorgensen edging out Doolan for third.

Team manager Gary Havelock said afterwards: “That was a great meeting and a welcome result.

“Nick Morris was great with his team-riding, which seemed to kick-start Jye’s confidence. We wish Lewis all the best, and hope he is fighting fit for Saturday’s home meeting against Newcastle.”

Berwick: Morris 12+1, Etheridge 11, Doolan 9+2, Bridger 9, Kurtz (guest) 5+1, Greaves (guest) 2, Howe - rider replacement.

Workington: Cook 12, Jorgensen 8, Proctor 7, Williamson 6+2, Campton 6+1, Sarjeant 4+1, McDonald (guest) 1.

Glasgow 54

Berwick 38

As expected, Berwick, with three guest riders, and rider replacement for Lewis Bridger, went down to a 16-point defeat at Glasgow on Sunday.

Nick Morris had another good meeting, picking up 12 points, which included two race wins, but Jye Etheridge was the Bandits’ only other race winner.

Berwick actually produced the first two race winners, but after that the Tigers stepped up a gear and romped to a comfortable victory.

Aaron Summers and Richard Lawson both won four races apiece and Berwick were forced to use skipper Kevin Doolan as a double-pointed tactical ride in heat seven, when he finished second.

Glasgow: Summers 14, Lawson 13, Worrall 8+2, Lunna 7+2, Bewley 6, Smith 4+1, Perry 2+1.

Berwick: Morris 12, Etheridge 9+2, Doolan 9, Proctor (guest) 6+2, Sarjeant (guest) 2+2, Wallinger (guest) 0, Bridger - rider replacement.