BERWICK BANDITS 41 NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS 49: It was lights, cameras and action as Berwick staged their first live televised meeting at Shielfield against Newcastle on Tuesday.
A good crowd, good weather and with the Sky cameras in town, it was the perfect opportunity to put on a show.
There was no doubting the evening was a success, capped by some exciting racing, but unfortunately the Bandits slumped to another home defeat, their fourth at home in league and cup competitions so far this season, so not everything went according to plan.
Both teams took to the track with only six riders - Berwick were without the banned David Bellego and Newcastle were missing the injured Andrew Tully, whilst Ludvig Lindgren was racing abroad and Adam McKinna was drafted in as a guest.
Many away fans even wrote off their team’s chances before the meeting, but with what was effectively a four man team, they dug deep and turned a two point deficit into a unexpected eight point victory by the time heat 15 came around.
At 31-29 after heat ten a close finish was in prospect, but when Paul Starke laid down at the back in heat 11, with Newcastle on a 1-5 at the time, and Kozza Smith came out and won the re-run, it looked as if the luck might be on the Bandits’ side.
But a 1-5 from Christian Henry and surprise packet Lewis Kerr in 12, followed by another maximum from the hard-riding Richie Worrall and Stuart Robson in 13, after Smith fell heavily in what was shaping up to be the best race of the night, meant the Diamonds shone again at 36-42.
Kerr split Matty Wethers and Starke in 14 which meant Newcastle went into the last race four points up, Berwick needing a 5-1 just to get a draw.
It wasn’t to be, however, as Worrall and Robson sped from the gate for a 1-5 over Smith and Kennett, the third time in the meeting that the Bandits’ number one had been on the receiving end of such a scoreline, and once again the Diamonds were sparkling.
Earlier the teams had swapped 5-1s in the opening two races, three drawn heats seeing the scores tied at 15-all after five heats.
A 4-2 from Kennett and Nicki Barrett in six put Berwick in front for the first time, but they couldn’t shake the Geordies off and a run of five successive 3-3’s meant the meeting always looked as if it was going to go to the wire.
Afterwards, manager Ian Rae was naturally disappointed at losing another home meeting, claiming an inability to consistently get out of the gate first had cost them dearly.
“It was a great atmosphere having the TV cameras here,” he said, “but the bottom line was we lost the meeting.
“That’s another home defeat we can ill afford and we must try and turn things around, although we now don’t have another meeting for a fortnight.”
Newcastle boss George English was obviously more upbeat when he said: “With the team we put out tonight we thought we might struggle to get one mach point, never mind four. I’m very proud of the way the lads stuck to their task and rose to the challenge over the final heats.”
Edward Kennett 1,3,3,1,0 8
David Bellego R/replacement
3.Robin Aspegren Fx,1*,2,1 4+1
Matty Wethers 3,2,2,1*,3 11+1
Kozza Smith © 3,2,3,Fx,1 9
Paul Starke ® 0,2*,1*,Fx,1 4+2
Nicki Barrett ® 3,0,1,1*,0,0 5
Stuart Robson 3,3,0,1*,2*,2* 11+3
Andrew Tully R/replacement
Christian Henry 2*,2,3,2,3 12+1
Adam McKinna 1*,0,N,0 1+1
Richie Worrall 2,2,3,2,3,3 15
Steve Worrall ® F,0,0,N 0
Lewis Kerr ® 1,1*,0,3,1*,2,2 10+3