Bandits are up for the cup with a big lead over Rye
Berwick Bandits 53-37 Rye House Rockets
Berwick gave themselves a great chance of qualification for the semi-finals of the KO Cup when they beat Rye House in the quarter-final first leg tie at Shielfield on Saturday.
The Bandits put their recent league form behind them to build up a healthy 16-point advantage, which they will hope to defend when they travel to Hoddesdon for the return at the end of the month.
The Rockets had two of the more dominant riders on display, in the shape of Edward Kennett and Stuart Robson, but the Bandits were the more solid unit and scored consistently throughout.
Kennett, a one-time Bandit, was unbeaten in his first three outings and also picked up a paid win in heat 15, which was damage limitation on the visitors’s part, whilst Robson also won three of his five races.
But Cameron Heeps was the only other Rye rider to take the chequered flag, leaving Berwick to control the meeting throughout.
It was difficult to pick out any one rider, but local Liam Carr had an outstanding night, dropping only one point from his four races, when he was beaten by Robson in heat four. Thomas Jorgensen and Matty Wethers, apart from their heat 15 blip, were consistent, as was Theo Pijper, all three finishing with double-figure returns.
Kevin Doolan also chipped in with some useful points, whilst Dany Gappmaier showed his emerging talent with a fine race against Kennett in heat 11, only to unfortunately fall on the apex of the third and fourth bend on the third lap after the former GB man managed to find a way past. Dawid Stachyra also finished the meeting more strongly after a slow start.
Two 5-1s in the first three races put Berwick in the driving seat at 13-5. Rye House managed to reduce the deficit with a 2-4 in six, but two more 5-1s from the home side in eight and nine, which out them 34-20 in front, saw them stamp their authority on the match.
In the closing stages the sides swapped heat advantages (three for the Bandits and two for the Rockets), in a meeting which was concluded within an hour and a half.
Berwick: Carr 11, Wethers 10+2, Pijper 9+2, Jorgensen 9+1, Doolan 6+1, Stachyra 5+2, Gappmaier 3+1.
Rye House: Kennett 11+1, Robson 11, Lanham 5, Heeps 4+1, Branford 4, Lykke 2, Morley 0.
* Berwick now face the prospect of two difficult home meetings over the next fortnight. On Saturday they take on Peterborough Panthers, a side they have remarkably not beaten home or away since 1998, whilst the following weekend, Somerset Rebels, top of the Premier League table and unbeaten so far this season, are in town.