BERWICK BANDITS 52, LEICESTER LIONS 40: Berwick returned to winning ways, and did so with some style as they dispatched the highly rated Leicester at Shielfield.
Edward Kennett made his debut for the Bandits and his inclusion in the side gave the rest of the riders a lift as they raced to a comfortable 12-point victory over the Tigers.
But perhaps just as importantly, he helped restore some of the confidence in the crowd who were perhaps starting to lose faith over the past few weeks.
Kennett got off to an inauspicious start, falling whilst leading his opening race on the third bend. But he recovered to go unbeaten in his three rides after that and his pass of Kauko Nieminen in heat 13 emphasised the battling qualities he has been signed for.
Those qualities were also evident in skipper Kozza Smith, who twice fought his way past Magnus Karlsson and Jan Graversen. Nicki Barrett and Matty Wethers also found a way through whilst Robin Aspegren also found a welcome return to form.
But perhaps the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Berwick’s other new signing, Paul Starke, who outgated the previously unbeaten Nieminen in heat 11, and held him off for four laps all the way to the line for his first victory in Bandits’ colours.
Both sides used rider replacement - Berwick for David Bellego and Leicester for Lasse Bjerre -who were both riding in the World U21 qualifiers.
The Lions got off to a decent start with Nieminen and Kevin Doolan both riding well, and at 15-15 after heat five it looked as if they might pose the Borderers a few problems.
But Barrett and Kennett put the Bandits in front for the first time with a 5-1 in heat six and from that point they were never headed, another two 5-1s in nine and ten, courtesy of Robin Aspegren and Weathers, Kennett and Barrett, saw them establish. 12-point lead at 36-24.
Nieminen was introduced as a tactical ride for double points in 11, and with Smith demolishing the tapes and going off a 15m handicap, not many in the stadium would have given Berwick much hope of taking anything from the heat.
But Starke gated and no matter how hard Nieminen tried he just could not pass.
Wethers, who was unbeaten in three, was deservedly named as rider of the night and nominated for heat 15, but he ended the evening biting the dust when he fell heavily on the fourth bend, although thankfully he escaped unscathed.
After the meeting a rejuvinated Aspegren said: “Edward Kennett is a quality rider and I think his inclusion in the team has given everyone a lift.
“His arrival has given everyone in the team a kick up the backside, which is what we probably needed after the last few weeks.
“Hopefully we can build on this over the coming meetings.”
Kennett said: “I am pleased Berwick have given me the opportunity to ride. It’s a long way to come for home meetings (840 mile round trip) but there is a bit of dirt on the track and you can race on it which I like. I am looking forward to my time here.”
Eddie Kennett Fx,2*,3,2* 7+2
David Bellego – Rider replacement
Robin Aspegren 1*,2,3,3,1 10+1
Matthew Wethers 2,1*,3,2*,3,Fx 11+2
Kozza Smith 3,2,0,3 8
Paul Starke 1,1,0,3,0 5
Nicki Barrett 3,1,3,1,2*,1 11+1
Manager Ian Rae
Kauko Nieminen 2,3,4^,1,2* 13+1
Lasse Bjerre – Rider replacement
Kevin Doolan 3,3,2,1,2 11
Jan Graversen 0,0,1,0,2 3
Magnus Karlsson 2*,2,0,1,0,3 8+1
Simon Nielsen 2,1,0,1*,0 4+1
James Sarjeant 0,0,R,1* 1+1
Manager Glyn Taylor
Referee Stuart Wilson