Berwick Bandits 46, Newcastle Diamonds 43: AS derby meetings go this wasn’t a classic, but there was still plenty to hold the attention of the crowd, boosted by the offer of reduced admission for the third week in a row.
Berwick, after a run of home defeats, were desperate for a win to enhance their chances of qualifying for the end of season play-offs, whilst the Diamonds, already guaranteed a title play-off berth, were looking for points to finish as high up the final table as possible.
In the end both had to be satisfied with their night’s work, although both will still probably feel disappointed they did not take more.
Berwick welcomed back Nicki Barrett after two weeks out with a leg injury and it was his five points from his last two rides which helped the home club establish a seven point lead going into the final two races.
Earlier there had been little to separate the sides.
After a good opening ride by Stuart Robson the teams swapped 4-2s in two and three to remain level at 9-9.
The next three races were all shared, with Ludvig Lindgren, Robin Aspegren and Berwick guest Nick Morris, who blasted past Claes Nedermark, all taking the chequered flag, and at 18-all it was impossible to call.
The first breakthrough came from the most unlikely of sources when Klaus Jakobsen gated ahead of Mark Lemon and Christian Henry, who had won his opening race, and despite being passed by team-mate Sebastian Alden, managed to hold on for. 5-1 which gave Berwick a 23-19 lead.
Henry bounced straight back with a second win insight, but both Micky Dyer and David Bellego managed to pass Nedermark for a drawn heat and when Barrett and Aspegren took a 4-2 in nine, split by Lindgren, the Bandits opened up a 30-24 advantage.
In ten Henry fell at the back, just as Bellego was forcing his way through for a 5-1 with Morris. The race was stopped, the Aussie excluded. Bellego then failed to get off the line in the re-start and Morris again had to make a great passing move to get the better of Lemon.
There was no movement in the scoring over the next three heats, with a drawn heat and two shared 4-2s, Alden (twice) and Lemon taking the wins.
Aspegren’s second win of the night in 14 secured the victory for Berwick at 45-38, but the bonus was still up for grabs.
Berwick won the toss and took 2-4, and as gate four had produced nine previous winners, it appeared as if they had the advantage. But Robson had other ideas, and after being hauled back for one unsatisfactory start, he sped from the gate, joined by Lemon, for a 1-5 which meant the Diamonds did not leave empty handed.
Berwick: Alden 12, Aspegren 9, Morris 8+1, Dyer 6+1, Barrett 5, Bellego 3+1, Jakobsen 3+1.
Newcastle: Robson 11+1, Lemon 9+1, Nedermark 9, Henry 7+1, Lindgren 6+1, Starke 1+1, Worrell rider rep.
BERWICK went down to an 11-point defeat at the hands of Glasgow on Sunday, the main difference between the sides being the form of the evergreen James Grieves and Tigers’ guest William Lawson.
Grieves top-scored with three wins in his 13-point haul, whilst Lawson, who rides for Workington, dropped only one point in five starts, rattling off 12+2.
Berwick, with ex-Tiger David Bellego winning his first two races, and Seb Alden taking the chequered flag in four, got off to a good start and after five heats they led 14-16.
Glasgow drew level in the next, but Berwick never let the home side dominate proceedings completely and despite being 36-29 down after 11, they hauled themselves back into contention with a 1-5 from Micky Dyer and Nikki Barrett in 12 which brought the scores back to 37-34.
Unfortunately Glasgow hit back with a 5-1 over guest Nick Morris in 13. Heat 14 was drawn and at 45-38 there was still an outside chance of a bonus.
But there was no stopping Grieves and Lawson in 15 which meant Berwick returned empty handed.
Glasgow: Grieves 13, Lawson 12+2, Grajczonek 9, Wright 5+1, Bager 5+1, Campton 5, Sitera 1.
Berwick: Dyer 10, Barrett 7+1, Alden 7, Bellego 7, Morris 6, Aspegren 2+2, Jakobsen 0.