Berwick Bandits 58
Eastbourne Eagles 32
For the first time in 23 years, Berwick Bandits enjoyed a home league match at Shielfield Park with the Eastbourne Eagles.
Former Berwick number one Nick Morris guested for the banned Eastbourne star, Edward Kennett, in a match far more entertaining than the big score would suggest.
Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles, while suffering a 26-point defeat, were excellent guests, providing the Berwick ‘Mike Hope of Wooler Ltd.’ Bandits (powered by Clear Energy Consulting) with some great opposition and great racing – not least a brilliantly ridden heat 13, a joy for the purists to watch.
At the end of heat four, the score had the Bandits four points ahead at 14-10 but not without incident, as Jye Etheridge took an exclusion for barging the tapes in heat one, to be replaced by Leon Flint who took a paid second behind Aaron Summers, who took second behind Morris.
Alfie Bowtell fell in the second race when battling with Flint on the third lap, so the result was awarded a home 5-1 to Coty Garcia and Flint, followed by two shared 3-3s, before Morris and Doolan battled hard in heat five with the Eagles’ guest pulling ahead to win in another shared 3-3, taking the score to 17-13.
Berwick moved two more points ahead after a heat six 4-2, which looked set to be a share, until Etheridge powered up and shot past Bowtell.
With the 3-3 in heat seven won well by Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen over Lewis Kerr, the scores settled at 24-18.
The Eagles drafted in Morris as a tactical substitute in heat nine for Bowtell but fell on the second lap as Gappmaier had whipped under Lawson to take a superb win and another Berwick 4-2, moving the scores on to 32-22.
Etheridge took heat 10 with ease as Summers shot from last to second down the back straight to form a 5-1 and put 14 points between the sides.
Newman and Flint had a great early-race battle in heat 12, the Eastbourne man pulling ahead for second behind Gappmaier in another Berwick 4-2, taking Berwick into a winning position with three heats to go , and the score sitting at 44-28.
In heat 13, Morris made the early gate as Busk Jakobsen soared round him off bend two but then, like a game of high-speed technical chess, the pair, along with Summers served up a masterclass of racing.
Heat 15 came to an astonishing halt down the back straight of the opening lap as Lawson lifted coming off bend two, bunching up the chasing pack, resulting in a high-speed coming together of Etheridge, Busk Jakobsen and Morris (who fell on the back straight) as the two Bandits locked together and skidded out of control at an enormous speed off the track and on to the infield, coming to a halt on the pitch on the third bend, over 100 metres from the initial incident.
Neither Bandit was fit to take his place in the re-run, nor was Morris, and Lawson excluded as being the primary cause of the stoppage, so Berwick brought in Garcia and Flint, as Eastbourne brought in Kerr.
In the re-run, Garcia and Flint, Berwick’s reserve pairing, took the easy 5-1 ending the night at 58-32 as Busk Jakobsen was said to have a possibly dislocated shoulder while the other fallers nursed minor bumps and bruises. Bandits’ team manager Gary Flint said: “It looks like we had a runaway win over Eastbourne but they made us work and it was a very entertaining meeting, with all points coming to us.
“We will be keeping a close eye on Nikolaj’s shoulder and hope he’ll be OK for Wednesday’s (tonight) home meeting against Scunthorpe, and fingers crossed he’ll be fit.
“However for the guys to, mostly, walk away from that terrible incident with very few injuries was very relieving indeed.”
Individual riders’ score chart:
Berwick “Mike Hope of Wooler Ltd.” Bandits (powered by Clear Energy Consulting) 58
1 Aaron Summers 2,3,2*,1 = 8+1
2 Jye Etheridge E,1,3,3,FN = 7
3 Dany Gappmaier 0,1*,3,3 = 7+1
4 Kevin Doolan (captain) 3,2,1,2* = 8+1
5 Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 1*,3,2,3,FN = 9+1
6 Coty Garcia (r) 3,0,1*,3,3 = 10+1
7 Leon Flint (r) 1*,2*,2,1,1,2* = 9+3
Eastbourne “Fineprint” Eagles 32
1 Nick Morris (guest) 3,3,F,3,2,FN = 11
2 Georgie Wood 0,0,0,N = 0
3 Kyle Newman 1*,1*,1,2 = 5+2
4 Lewis Kerr 2,2,0,1,1 = 6
5 Richard Lawson (captain) 3,2,2,R,X = 7
6 Alfie Bowtell (r) Fx,0,N,0 = 0
7 Jason Edwards (r) 1,0,2,0,0 = 3.