Berwick Bandits 40
Rye House Rockets 30
by Keith Hamblin
at Shielfield Park
IT was a night of high drama at Shielfield, with a number of frightening crashes interrupting the flow of the meeting.
One rider, Alex Edberg, ended up in hospital with serious injuries. Kozza Smith scored his first ever paid maximum for Berwick and the Bandits somehow managed to escape with a narrow two point victory in a match which only last 13 heats.
This was despite the fact that they were never in front prior to that race, and at one stage were eight points adrift.
Rye House had beaten Berwick at a dusty Hoddesdon the weekend previous, but when the Rockets arrived at the Border track without Chris Neath most fans were predicting a relatively easy night for the home side.
But this couldn’t have been further from the case, as the visitors opened up with a 1-5 and a 2-4 in the first two heats to go 3-9 in front, and from that moment on Berwick were playing catch-up.
In truth it was only the performances of Smith and his partner Josef Franc which kept the Bandits in the match for they raced to three vital 5-1 successes in heats three, five and nine to prevent Rye stealing an unlikely march.
With Steve Boxall popping out of the gate to win his first two races and young Aussie Tyson Nelson impressing on his Shielfield debut with points in each of his six outings, the Rockets always had their noses in front.
Berwick’s cause was not helped by some poor gating from Sebastian Alden and skipper Lee Complin in each of their opening two rides, which meant they were constantly chasing the Rockets’ tails.
But this meeting will probably always be remembered for a series of high speed crashes which meant it was destined never to reach its final conclusion, bearing in mind the 9.30pm curfew.
First of all Edberg fell in the opening race, but managed to walk away unscathed.
In seven Mitchell Davey and Jordan Frampton tangled going into the first bend. One of the bikes smashed through the safety fence. Both riders walked back to the pits but Frampton was withdrawn from the meeting with a shoulder injury.
But it was heat eight which resulted in the biggest delay, and subsequently led to Edberg’s hospitalisation with head and chest injuries and a punctured lung.
All seemed to be going well until the last lap when first of all Jade Mudgway lost control up the back straight and cartwheeled over his own handlebars. Nelson ploughed into the back of him, and referee Margaret Vardy immediately switched on the red lights.
Race leader James Brundle slowed on the fourth bend, but Edberg, who one can only presume did not see the lights, clipped his back wheel and smashed into the fencing next to the pits gate.
There was then a 30 minute-plus delay whilst he received treatment from the paramedics.
At 20-28 down and with Edberg having been taken away by ambulance, it did not look good for berwick.
But Smith and Franc started the fightback with their third 5-1 in nine. Alden won in ten and then Complin made a storming ride from the back in 11 to pass Nelson, a 4-2 reducing the deficit to 32-34.
Smith did likewise against Nelson in 12, (35-37) but time was starting to run out, and it was only in heat 13 that Bandits played their get out of jail card when Complin and Alden sped from the gate for what turned out to be a match-winning ride.
The riders went to the gate for heat 14, but there was not enough time to start the race.
Berwick, with their great fightback, stole the victory and claimed two match points, but Rye House left with a worthy bonus, although they will probably feel they deserved more.
Berwick - Smith 11+1, Franc 7+2, Alden 7+2, Complin 7, Edberg 4, Mudgway 3, Davey 1. Rye House - Nelson 11+1, Boxall 8+1, Hawkins 6+2, Brundle 5+1, Frampton 4, Bowen 4, Neath rider/rep.