Berwick Bandits 54
Newcastle Diamonds 40
by Keith Hamblin
BERWICK put the disappointment of last week’s home defeat at the hands of Ipswich behind them when they bounced back with a thoroughly deserved victory over old rivals Newcastle at Shielfield on Saturday. The Bandits picked up all three match points by outshining the Diamonds and sparkling in their own right.
There were major contributions from Kozza Smith and Lee Complin, who won six races between them, and reserve Jade Mudgway, who returned to form with a paid 13 score, as he made his first ever home appearance in the heat 15 nominated riders’ race.
But it was Swede Sebastian Alden who stole the show, the highlight being a new track record, taking half a second off the previous best set by Great Britain international and Grand Prix star Chris Harris in October 2009. Alden’s new best was a fantastic 63.3, which he set in heat ten.
He looked just as quick when he was all set for victory in heat 13 as well, but the tell-tale sign of smoke from his engine signalled a blown motor, which enabled Jason Lyons to come through off the last bend.
Lyons, riding as a guest, was the mainstay of the Newcastle side, winning four of his five races, only missing out on his maximum when he was beaten by Lee Complin whilst going for double points in heat 11.
Along with spoiler Derek Sneddon, the Aussie had got the visitors off to a perfect start by taking a 1-5 over Alden and Ludvig Lindgren in the opening race.
After last week’s performance against the Witches, when the Bandits were continually second-best out of the gate, some fans in the crowd could have been forgiven if they had thought ‘here we go again.’ But gradually Berwick turned things around. Two races later, thanks to a win from the back by Mudgway in heat two, they were back level at 9-9, and when Mudgway again came from the back to join Complin for a 5-1 in five, it put the Bandits 14-10 in front, a lead they were never to surrender.
With Lyons continuing to shine, a win by Sneddon in heat eight kept the Diamonds in contention, but successive 5-1s in nine and ten, which included Alden’s new track record, opened up a match-winning 37-23 lead, and after that there was no way back for the Tynesiders.
Complin, who had earlier scraped past Rene Bach for a last- gasp win on the line in seven, was at it again in 11 when he went from third to first, and with Mitchell Davey pipping Sneddon on the line for his only point of the night Bandits remained 14 points up and were almost home and dry.
The meeting was secured in 12 when Mudgway went from third to second to join Smith on a 5-1 which stretched the score to 46-28 with only three races remaining.
Alden was on for another quick time in 13 when Lyons chased him all the way, but coming off the last bend the Swede ground to a halt after an expensive engine failure.
Newcastle reduced the deficit with two heat victories in the last three races, but by then the meeting was beyond them.Despite Alden’s record, it was Mudgway who was named as Rider of the Night, and afterwards he said: “Two weeks ago I was standing here complaining about how unlucky I was, having just blown my number one engine.
“At the time I said I could be back here in a couple of weeks and things might be very different.Well, here I am, and things have picked up.
“Tonight I have scored paid 13 points and been nominated for my first heat 15 at home. I think I have been good enough to be included in the past, but others have also been deserving and I have just had to wait my turn.
“It is a bit of a turn around, but I know that things could still be better. Gating has never been my strong point, and tonight I had to work hard in quite a few races. It makes it exciting for the fans, but I know that if I could gate it would make life a lot easier for me.
“I’m pleased things have turned around, and after last week’s defeat at home to Ipswich it was important that we hit back with a win.”
This weekend Berwick take on high-flying Workington home and away in a traditional August Bank Holiday double-header.
The teams will meet at Shielfield on Saturday with the return at Derwent Park on Monday.
Berwick: Smith 13, Complin 11, Mudgway 9+4, Franc 7+2, Alden 7, Lindgren 5+1, Davey 1.
Newcastle: Lyons 16, Bach 9, Newman 8+1, Sneddon 5+1, Haines 1, Worrall 1, Nerdermark r/rep.