BERWICK BANDITS 53
NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS 40
Berwick, after last week’s win over Workington, recorded their first back-to-back home victories of the season when they beat local rivals Newcastle at Shielfield on Saturday.
It was only the Bandits’ third league win of the year, but in many respects it was the most satisfying.
They went into the meeting without Lewis Bridger and had to use rider replacement, whilst local youngster Luke Ruddick was drafted in at number seven in place of the injured Lee Payne.
Under the circumstances, most supporters were expecting a Diamonds’ victory, but in truth only Robert Lambert and Stevie Worrall really showed up for the visitors.
Worrall won his first three races, and was leading his fourth when he shed a chain. Lambert, meanwhile, only dropped one point from six rides, when he was beaten by Nick Morris in heat six, but such was Berwick’s overall dominance that Lambert also had to win one race as a double-pointed tactical ride when Newcastle found themselves 12 points down after heat eight.
The Bandits stamped their authority on the meeting with two 5-1s in heats two and three (courtesy of Ruddick and the rejuvenated Jye Etheridge, and the returning pair of David Howe and Dany Gappmaier).
All six Bandits went on to win at least one race. Morris was competitive throughout, Howe grew into his role on his comeback from injury and Ruddick did not let anyone down with his performance.
But it was the form of Etheridge which caught the eye. He finished on 12 paid 15, which could have been all the greater but for an untimely spin and fall when leading in his seventh race of the night in heat 14.
By then the meeting had already been won by the home side, Etheridge and Howe taking the team past the winning post with a 5-1 in heat 12.
Again, racing only went ahead because of the club’s innovative track covers and the hard work and dedication of the track staff.
Heavy rain hit the region throughout the day, but volunteers turned up at 7.30am to lay the covers, and there is no doubting it saved the day.
It was the fourth home meeting in a row Berwick had laid the covers, and team manager Gary Havelock was quick to praise everyone for their efforts, claiming they might even have saved the club from a financial disaster.
“We could well have been in financial quicksand by now had we not had the income in from these home meetings,” he said.
“I hate to think the mess we could have been in, so let’s not underestimate the efforts of our track staff, the best in speedway. They are the real heroes.”
Of the meeting itself, Havvy added: “All the guys played their part. Luke Ruddick got four points, including a win and he kept Ludvig Lindgren at the back in another race so respect to him for that.
“David Howe was riding through the pain barrier, but you would never know from the way he was racing out on the track.
“But it is the performances of Jye (Etheridge) which gives me the greatest satisfaction.
“He could have had paid 18, following on from two double-figure scores last weekend, and all this from a rider Edinburgh called the worst in the league last season!”
Promoter Scott Courtney added: “What an amazing night that was with too many spectacular performances to mention and far too many people to thank.
“These last few weeks have been a great example of what passion and hard work can create. It feels so good to see people achieve things against all odds on and off the track.
“Motorsport only survives on sponsorship, admissions through the turnstiles and volunteers and everyone associated with Berwick Speedway should feel immensely proud of themselves today.”
Berwick - Etheridge 12+3, Morris 12, Howe 11+2, Doolan 7+2, Gappmaier 7+1, Ruddick 4, Bridger - rider replacement.
Newcastle - Lambert 17, Worrall 12, Lindgren 4, Rose 4, Hopwood 3+1, Morris 2, Coles 0.
BERWICK BANDITS 38
Berwick put up a spirited performance at Peterborough on Sunday before going down to a 16-point defeat.
Lewis Bridger was again missing and Jake Knight rode as a guest at reserve.
Nick Morris won two of his five races and top scored with 12 points for the Bandits, who also had race winners in the shape of David Howe and Dany Gappmaier.
Three heat advantages from the home side saw them establish an early 13-5 lead, and after that Berwick were playing catch-up, with Kevin Doolan used as a double pointed tactical ride in heat seven, when he finished second. Peterborough suffered an early setback when reserve Simon Lambert damaged his wrist in a heat two fall and he was later withdrawn from the meeting.
But the Panthers, with former GP rider Chris Harris making his home debut, always had enough in the tank to see off the opposition.
Harris won his first three races, and with Jack Holder also taking three chequered flags, and Paul Starke and Ulrich Ostergaard two apiece, the Bandits always had their work cut out to try and close the gap.
There was a nasty crash in heat 15 involving Nick Morris, but thankfully the Bandits No 1 walked away unscathed.
Manager Havelock said: “Peterborough are a tough ask but we had good races too, and thankfully all six of our guys walked away unharmed.
Peterborough - Harris 12, Ostergaard 11+2, Holder 11, Starke 8+1, Wilson Dean 6+1, Bacon 4+1, Lambert 2+1.
Berwick - Morris 12, Doolan 9+1, Howe 6, Etheridge 5+2, Gappmaier 4+1, Knight 3+2, Bridger - rider replacement.
Tonight (Thursday) Berwick will be back in league action when they travel to Ipswich to take on the Witches, who sit third in the table.