Berwick’s lingering end-of-season play-off hopes were all but extinguished as Peterborough enhanced their own with a convincing victory at Shielfield on Saturday.
The Bandits simply had no answer as the Panthers – superbly led by track record holder Craig Cook – pounced to take all four match points.
It was the visitors’ fifth away league win of the season, which should be good enough to secure a top-six finish, and in so doing also increased their winning sequence over the Borderers, home and away, which stretches back to 1998.
Cook looked untouchable as he raced to four straight wins, the first three from the front, but the fourth, in heat 13, is being described by some fans as one of the best rides seen around the track for many a year.
For once he missed the gate, trailing the Bandits’ pairing of Kevin Doolan and Thomas Jorgensen, but he stalked them for three laps before producing a tremendous double pass which had the majority of supporters applauding.
Doolan, who was Berwick’s top scorer, managed to outgate Cook again in heat 15, and this time managed to hang on for four laps to inflict the only defeat of the night on the Panthers’ No.1.
But the visitors were not a one-man team. Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen had three wins in his 11-point return, whilst Ulrich Ostergaard and Emil Grondal both chipped in with a win.
But it was the form of reserve Ashley Morris which probably swung the match Peterborough’s way. His 11 paid 12 included three paid wins, which included the initial 1-5 in heat eight which finally broke the deadlock after the first seven heats had all been shared 3-3 for a 21-21 scoreline.
Gradually, the Panthers started to exert their authority on proceedings with heat advantages in 10, 12 and 14, although the Bandits didn’t help their own cause with Dawid Stachyra and Dany Gappmaier both falling whilst in scoring positions in heats 10 and 14.
But, at the end of the day, Berwick can have few complaints as apart from Doolan, Theo Pijper and Matty Wethers were their only other race winners – Peterborough providing 11 of the first 15 riders across the finish line and they were beaten by the better team.
After the meeting team manager Scott Courtney said: “We were beaten by the better side, no question.
“They were a lot quicker than us from the gate and what can I say about Craig Cook? His ride in heat 13 was a masterclass. We were caught out by the track a couple of times, which had nothing to do with the preparation, but our lads are a bunch of fighters. We will take it on the chin and hope to bounce back in the next one.”
Berwick will need to find their form quickly, for their next meeting is against title favourites Somerset at Shielfield this coming Saturday (August 20), and the Rebels currently top the Premier League table, unbeaten so far this season.
Berwick: Doolan 12, Jorgensen 7+2, Wethers 6+1, Pijper 6, Gappmaier 4+2, Carr 4+1, Stachyra 1+1.
Peterborough: Cook 14, Morris 11+1, Jakobsen 11, Ostergaard 6+1, Perry 4+1, Grondal 3, Holub 1+1.