Berwick Bandits 54-41 Rye House Rockets
The Bandits carry a 13-point lead into tonight’s second-leg of the Premier Challenge Trophy after edging out Rye House Rockets in the first leg at Shielfield last night.
Super Swede Seb Alden powered to 15 points and French racer David Bellego was next best with 11.
But the Bandits’ injury jinx struck again. Guest rider Craig Cook, the newly-crowned Premier League riders champion, aggravated an old arm injury after winning his first two heats and had to receive attention from paramedics.
Ex-Bandit Kevin Doolan collected ten points for Rye House with Anders Mellgren best with 15 points.
Team manager Ian Rae had hoped for a larger lead, but is still confident of success.
He said: “The reoccurrence of Craig Cook’s arm injury was a big blow to us and I had a feeling when he came in after his first outing that we were in trouble. He looked in agony and after his second fine win his was finding the pain unbearable and needed instant pain killing injections from our medics, and then we knew he was out for the night.
“Having said that the remaining lads didn’t do half bad with Seb Alden again looking completely majestic in his maximum performance and even young Joe Jacobs was getting stuck in, especially in some hard first bends. There’s good talent in that young man. So 13 points to take to Rye in the second leg and we can take the trophy but its going to be tight as anything and we’ll have to be on our mettle of that there is no doubt.”
Winners of the 2012 Premier Fours’ Championship, the Bandits went into last night’s first leg of the Premier Challenge Trophy final full of determination to nail a second piece of silverware this season.
Rye House Rockets soon found that out to their cost as the Bandits romped through the first four races to go 18-6 up, taking the win in each opening races.
Doolan was nominated for a Rockets’ tactical ride in Heat Five and after a sluggish gate forced his way round Robin Aspegren and then entered a bristling three-way battle with front runner David Bellego who held off all the efforts from the Rocket behind in the shared 4-4 race result taking the score to 22-10.
Cook took Heat Six by the scruff of the neck but behind Kasper Lykke was winding in Micky Dyer all race and took a fine pass round the Aussie Bandit on the final lap to square the race 3-3.
The paramedic was then called to the pits to treat unbeaten Cook for a reoccurrence of an arm injury and subsequently withdrew him from the meeting, and with Anders Mellgren on a tactical ride in Heat Eight the nerves got to Nicki Barrett who nose-dived the tapes.
In the re-run Mellgren shot away but had to race well to keep the fast moving Dyer at bay in the 3-6 result that narrowed the margins to 31-22.
The Rockets, somewhat buoyed by Berwick’s loss of Cook held their own over the next couple of races with the gap down to 11 after Heat 11, whilst in Heat 12 Barrett’s surprise last place behind Simon Lambert recorded another 3-3 share to take the score to 44-33.
A 4-2 in Heat 14 added the final points to extend the Bandits’ lead taking the gap to 13 points and after a shared 15 – won by maximum man Alden – his fifth of the night, leaving the Bandits with a 13-point cushion to defend at Rye House on Sunday evening.
1. Craig Cook (guest) 3,3,N,N = 6 withdrawn arm injury
2. Micky Dyer 2*,0,2,0 = 4+1
3. Robin Aspegren 3,1,2*,3 = 9+1
4. David Bellego 2*,3,3,3,0 = 11+1
5. Sebastian Alden © 3,3,3,3,3 = 15
6. Joe Jacobs (guest) ® 1,0,0,N = 1
7. Nicki Barrett ® 3,1,1*,2,0,0,1 = 8+1
Rye House Rockets
1. Kevin Doolan (guest) 1,4^,1*,2,2 = 10+1
2. Luke Bowen – Rider replacement
3. Anders Mellgren 1,2,6^,3,2,1* = 15+1
4. Jason Garrity Fx,0,1*,1,2 = 4+1
5. Jason Bunyan © 2,2,1,2,1* = 8+1
6. Kasper Lykke Nielsen ® 0,0,0,N = 0
7. Simon Lambert ® 2,1*,R,1*,Fx = 4+2