BERWICK BANDITS 56-37 SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS: Berwick Bandits made it three wins out of three in the Premier League with another confident display against Scunthorpe at Shielfield.
It was a solid all-round team performance which carried the Bandits to victory, but the undoubted star of the show was reserve Alex Edberg. He stormed to a superb 17 (paid 19) total, which was by far his best ever showing in a Berwick race jacket.
His only dropped points came when he was beaten by former Bandit Tero Aarnio in the re-run of heat three and in heat nine when he lost out to the flying Josh Auty.
There were also fine contributions from heat leaders Sebastian Alden and Ricky Ashworth, whilst captain Lee Complin played the skipper’s role with some consistent back-up.
The visitors, meanwhile, saw Auty pile up another big score, something which he has been doing in both Premier and Elite Leagues recently, whilst there was good back-up from Aarnio, guest Matthew Wethers and reserve Ashley Birks.
Berwick manager Ian Rae said: “That was another solid, all-round team performance and I couldn’t be more happy. Everyone played their part, but I thank special mention must go to Alex because he was simply outstanding.
“Alex suffered a bad injury last season and a lesser rider might not have come back from that. He has been promising a performance like that for a few weeks now, but tonight was his night and he showed us what he is really capable of.
“We have three tough away meetings coming up in the next week (Workington on Monday, Somerset on Friday and Rye House on Saturday) so this is a timely reminder to everyone that Alex is back to his best, and to be honest we will probably need some big scores from him at reserve if we are to take anything out of those matches.”
Both sides went into the meeting with depleted line-ups - Berwick were missing Frenchman David Bellego, who was away competing in the World U21 semi-finals in Italy, whilst the Scorpions were without the inspirational David Howe, who is still nursing a shoulder injury.
As a result both teams operated rider replacement, but Scunthorpe always knew that the absence of Howe, who usually goes well at the Border track, would be difficult to cover.
In the early stages there wasn’t much between the sides, but two 5-1s, from Edberg and Complin in five and Alden and Edberg in seven, saw the home side establish a ten point lead at 26-16.
This allowed Scunthorpe to use Wethers, who had won his opening ride, as a tactical substitute in eight, and his six point victory, which produced a 1-8 with Birks, brought the Scorpions back into contention at 27-24.
But Wethers failed to score in four of his six outings, and with Aarnio taking a heavy fall as a result of first bend bunching later in the meeting the Lincolnshire side started to run out of steam.
The four most impressive riders on the night - Auty, Ashworth, Alden and Edberg all won the next four heats.
The first two were shared which kept things tight at 33-30, but a 4-2 and 5-1 in 11 and 12 saw Berwick carve out a 42-33 advantage, and at that stage a home victory was almost assured.
The track produced some close racing, but passing was at a premium, and in the early races only Jason King managed to squeeze his way past Birks in heat four.
Birks fell and was excluded as Edberg passed him on the inside on the third bend in heat 12 and in 13 Ashworth had to use all his experience to keep the chasing Auty at bay, only inches separating the pair as they crossed the line.
Another 5-1 from Edberg and Complin guaranteed all three match points in 14, but the best was kept til last, heat 15 producing a very close and exciting race involving Ashworth and Auty.
Alden gated and was gone at the front, but behind him the pair diced with each other for four laps.
On the last lap Auty looked as if he had the better of Ashworth as he passed him up the back straight into the third bend, but the Bandit cut back off the fourth bend to steal it on the line.
Berwick: Eberg 17+2, Alden 13, Ashworth 11+2, Complin 9+4, Tomicek 3, King 3.
Scunthorpe: Auty 13, Wethers 9, Birks 8+1, Aarnio 7+1, Armstrong 0, Toft 0.