SKIPPER Lee Complin was the hero as Berwick Bandits came from behind in the final heat to win the Tyne Tweed Trophy for the first time in five years by edging out Newcastle Diamonds on aggregate. The Bandits trailed 92-90 going into the final heat of the two-legged contest, but a miraculous move by Complin to pass two Diamonds riders on the line secured silverware for the Bandits in a thrilling 95-93 overall victory.
The Bandits were leading 54-39 after the first leg at Shielfield on Saturday, and emerged as overall winners after going down 54-41 at Newcastle on Sunday night.
Leading by 15 points from Saturday night’s foggy home leg, the visitors arrived at the Newcastle stadium yesterday evening tails-up and full of confidence. Berwick lost the services of new number one Ricky Ashworth, who went down heavily into the second bend fence at the start of heat one, and Newcastle gradually began to reel the Bandits in.
Berwick were just one point ahead overall at 80-81 with four races to go, but Complin came out as the second tactical ride for Berwick in Heat 12, and took the hard, wide line to score a six doubled score in another 3-6 which eased the Bandits three further ahead on aggregate, 83-87.
An unexpected 5-1 to the Diamonds in Heat 13 levelled the aggregate 88-88 leaving the trophy on a knife-edge, and in the penultimate race a home 4-2 put the home side 92-90 up with the final race to go.
Out in front of heat 15 shot Berwick’s Seb Alden, with Newcastle’s Stuart Robson and Mark Lemon tucking in for the minor placings, but coming into bend two hard and fast on the outside line Complin hit the heavy drive line and shot in a miraculous move to pass both Diamonds and take a trophy-winning second place. The stunning 5-1 heat win was enough for the Bandits to lift the Tyne Tweed Trophy 95-93 on aggregate.
Berwick team manager Ian Rae was full of praise for his skipper, saying: “Complin was more than superb all night, especially as we’d lost Ricky Ashworth so early on, but that double pass in heat 15 was worth the admission money alone! Brilliant stuff!”
As the crowd arrived at Shielfield Park for the first leg on Saturday there was considerable doubt whether the match would even begin due to a blanket of thick fog that lay over the stadium.
Miraculously with ten minutes to start time, and a cancellation on the cards, the murk lifted and Heat One got under way just after seven, with Ricky Ashworth carrying on where he’s left off the night before at Scunthorpe where he was unbeaten in five races. Ashworth ended the night unbeaten for the second night on the spin.
He began with a bang on the Friday night as Bandits kicked off their season with a 53-40 defeat away to Scunthorpe Scorpions in the new League Cup competition. Despite the defeat it was the superb performance from Ashworth, who took five superb wins on the night, which gave Bandits reason for optimism.
Rae said: “Over the first half of the match we, in the main, bar an excellent show from Ricky Ashworth and his full maximum, left ourselves with far too much to do, and although the second half recovery was something to be proud of it was ultimately too little too late, but we’ve learned and we’ll be hitting hard from the off in future.”