Howe proves to be an inspired choice of guest

Rye House Rockets 49

Berwick Bandits 43

by Keith Hamblin

BERWICK went down to their third defeat in as many days when they were beaten by Rye House at Hoddesdon on Sunday.

But there was some consolation for the Bandits in that they took a losing bonus point, courtesy of a last heat 5-1 from Josef Franc and guest David Howe.

Berwick went into the meeting with most fans probably not giving them much hope after their losses at Plymouth and Newport in the two days previous.

They gave a good account of themselves in the early stages, holding the Rockets to 15-all after five heats, but when they fell ten behind, and still found themselves trailing by the same margin with only one race remaining, it looked as if the tour was about to yield nothing.

But Franc had won three of his opening four races around the tight Hertfordshire track, whilst Howe had again proved an inspired guest for the injured Sebastian Alden, also recording three wins in his first four rides.

Howe and Franc had won heats one and three respectively, but a 4-2 in heat two gave the home side an early advantage.

Lee Complin and Jade Mudgway followed Jordan Frampton home in four, but when Howe won again in five, Alex Edberg following Steve Boxall home in third, it was all square at 15-15.

A home 4-2 in six, with Chris Neath beating Complin was followed by a second win for Franc in seven, and at 22-20 it was still too close to call.

The breakthrough came in eight when Ritchie Hawkins and Tyson Nelson took a 5-1 ahead of Edberg and Jade Mudgway, and when the Rockets followed this up with two successive 4-2s in nine and ten, with Nelson and Neath taking the chequered flag, it looked as if the meeting was starting to slip from Berwick’s grasp at 35-25.

Howe was nominated as a double-pointed tactical in 11 and although he was beaten by Frampton the 4-4 maintained the ten point deficit.

Linus Eklof won his only race of the afternoon in 12, with Howe winning in 13, two drawn heats seeing the score progressing to 45-35.

Another Berwick win in 14, this time from Franc meant it was 48-38 with one race remaining.

The bonus, for finishing within six, was up for grabs and when Franc and Howe gated, not being troubled to the line, the Borderers left with at least something to show for their efforts.

Rye House - Neath 10+1, Frampton 10, Nelson 9+2, Hawkins 8+1, Boxall 7, Brundle 4+2, Morley 1+1, Bowen rider/rep. Berwick - Howe 15+1, Franc 12, Complin 6, Eklof 5, Mudgway 3+1, Edberg 2, Davey 0.

Newport Wasps 57

Berwick Bandits 38

THE second leg of Berwick’s three-match tour saw the Bandits travel to Newport, the new home of their former number one Charlie Gjedde.

The Wasps are the form team in the Premier League at the moment and even in the absence of the injured Jason Doyle a tough match was in prospect on Saturday.

Such was the Welsh side’s superiority that they produced no fewer than 12 of the 15 race winners.

Gjedde was always in the spotlight and in winning his first four races he showed that he had the determination to try and get one over his former employers.

But they also had Robin Aspegren in unbeatable form - he raced to a 13+2 paid maximum, and with Leigh Lanham and Todd Kurtz always amongst the points it was another difficult night for the Borderers.

Newport got off to a good start and taking 5-1s from the opening two heats the Bandits were always on the back foot.

The next race was shared, before the Wasps took a 4-2 in four, Lee Complin diving hard underneath Kurtz on the second lap.

This put Berwick 17-7 down, forcing manager Ian Rae to utilise guest rider David Howe as a double-pointed tactical as early as heat five. However, Aspegren blocked his run and a 4-4 maintained the ten point deficit.

Gjedde won his second race in six, with Complin passing Anders Mellgren this time in another 4-2 which took the score to 25-13.

Josef Franc was the introduced as a second tactical in seven and he and Linus Eklof gave Bandits some hope with an 8-1 heat win which reduced the deficit to five at 26-21.

Bandits needed to kick on from here if they were to make any impression in the match, but the visitors were struggling with Alex Edberg still easing his way back into his racing and the reserve pairing of Jade Mudgway and Mitchell Davey making no impression whatsoever.

Two successive 5-1’s from the home side in eight and nine, courtesy of Gjedde and Kurtz, then Swedes Mellgren and Aspegren saw Newport steal a match-winning 36-23 lead.

Franc and Eklof split Gjedde and Lanham in ten, but Lanham bounced back to win 11 ahead of Howe and another home 4-2 saw the Wasps stretch their advantage to 43-28.

Aspegren and Kurtz then took a 5-1 ahead of the chasing Eklof in 12, but at 48-29 it was now a case of damage limitation as far as the Bandits were concerned.

Howe and Complin managed to eke out a 4-2 in 13, (45-32) with Gjedde at the back after missing the gate, but Mark Jones won ahead of Franc in 14 and with Mellgren keeping Mudgway at the back the score moved on to 54-35.

Howe then rounded off the night with another good win ahead of Gjedde and Lanham in 15, but overall the Bandits were a well beaten side and Newport deserved their victory.

It all sets it up nicely for the final meeting of the season between the two sides which id due to be held at Shielfield this Friday.

Newport - Gjedde 14, Aspegren 13+2 (paid max), Lanham 10+1, Kurtz 8+2, Jones 6+2, Mellgren 6, Doyle rider/rep. Berwick - Howe 13, Franc 11+1, Eklof 6+2, Complin 6, Edberg 1, Davey 1, Mudgway 0.