Bandits return empty handed from Plymouth trip

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Plymouth Devils 50 Berwick Bandits 40 Berwick returned empty handed from their long trip to Plymouth on Friday, when they failed to capitalise on a good start which saw them hold an early lead.

Bandits were given a pre-meeting boost when skipper Kozza Smith, who had been possibly ruled out with an inner ear infection which was affecting his balance, declared himself fit to ride.

But that was tempered by the loss, just a few hours later of Swedish star Robin Aspegren, who withdrew from the meeting prior to tapes up complaining of feeling unwell.

Berwick had recorded their biggest win of the season when they beat Plymouth 56-37 at Shielfield the previous Saturday, and with the Devils using rider replacement for number one rider Mikkel Bech, the Bandits travelled south with hopes of taking something from the meeting.

Berwick had also won their last away meeting at Glasgow just five days earlier, so there was no question that they were riding with a degree of confidence.

At one stage, after a series of ear;yracewins, Bandits led by fourpoints, but the home side, inspired by some good team riding from Mark Lemon and Corey Gathercole, managed to turn things around in the second half of the meeting and took all three league points on offer.

Lemon and Gathercole had both not had the best of nights at Shielfield in the earlier meeting, but on this occasion they were the most consistent riders on show.

With Lemon getting the better of Edward Kennett and Smith in heat one, and new Devil Simon Nielsen edging out Berwick guest Kasper Lykke in two, the home side took a 7-5 lead.

But Smith won the re-run of three, David Bellego beat Lemon and Nielsen in five and then both Kennett and Smith passed Gathercole in six as Berwick found themselves 14-16 in front.

Bellego then won his second race of the night in six, with Lykke, in for the injured Nicki Barrett, taking a 4-2 which put the visitors four up at 16-20.

But in the next Lemon used all his experience to slow the race down and shepherd partner Jake Anderson home ahead of Matty Wethers and Bellego and the scores were level again at 21-all.

A second win for Smith in eight and another 3-3 made it 24-24 and it was all to race for.

But Plymouth stepped it up with a 5-1 from Todd Kurtz and Gathercole over Bellego in nine, and after Gathercole won a drawn heat in ten, a 4-2 from Lemon and Anderson, split by Kennett in 11, saw the south coast side go six ahead at 36-30.

On form Gathercole won another drawn heat in 12, and although Kennett made a fantastic start in 13, another drawn heat meant that when Kurtz got the better of Wethers in 14 the Devils were in an unassailable position.

Gathercole, who was unbeaten in his last four races, rounded off the night with another win in 15. Kennett managed to pass Lemon, but there was no catching the other Aussie and the home side finished on a high to gain a quick revenge for their defeat atShielfield.

Plymouth Devils 50

Ricky Wells (G) - 0, 2, 2, 0, 1’ 5+1

Mikkel Bech - Rider replacement

Cory Gathercole - 2, 1, 2’, 3, 3, 3 14+1

Todd Kurtz - 1’, 0, 0, 3, 3 7+1

Mark Lemon - 3, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1 14

Jake Anderson - 1, 2’, 1, 1 5+1

Simon Nielsen - 3, 1’, 1’, 0 5+2

Berwick Bandits 40

Edward Kennett - 2, 3, 2, 3, 2 = 12

Kozza Smith - 1’, 3, 2’, 3, 0, 0 = 9+2

Robin Aspegren - Rider replacement

Matthew Wethers - 0, 1, 2, 1’, 2 = 6+1

David Bellego - 3, 3, 0, 1, 0 = 7

Kasper Lykke (G) - 2, 1, 0, 1’, 2, 0 = 6+1

Paul Starke - 0, 0, 0 = 0