Bandits up for challenge of cup
Berwick embarked on their 50th season of team racing with a 100-80 aggregate defeat by local rivals Newcastle in the Tyne-Tweed Trophy at the weekend.
Bandits were held 45-45 by Newcastle in an entertaining first leg of their annual pre-season challenge at Shielfield before going down 55-35 in the return at Brough Park on Sunday.
Now the Borderers must try and pick themselves up for their first official competitive action of the year when they take on Ipswich in the KO Cup.
They will be in action in the first leg in Suffolk tonight (Thursday), with the second and deciding leg at Shielfield on Saturday.
Co-promoter Scott Courtney said: “Newcastle are a different prospect on their own track, and after they rode so well as out place on Saturday it was always going to be a tough one for the guys. We always win, lose or draw as a team - as a whole, but it was great to see Lewis Bridger do so very well, taking two wins, including one which wrecked the maximums of both Steve Worrall and Robert Lambert in a great Heat 13.
“These challenge matches have certainly shaken off the winter rust and I feel happy that we’re on top form to give the Witches a good, hard cup tie.”
Honours were even after this thrilling first leg meeting when speedway won the day.
No one will complain about the draw, as the level of racing was good, but it will be the Diamonds who left the happier after taking an away draw.
The visitors made their intentions clear from the start, with a first race 1-5, but by heat three it was all square again and after that there was never more than four points between the sides.
Gradually Berwick started to gain the upper hand and with Claus Vissing winning his first two rides, despite the efforts of the charging Robert Lambert in heat five, and Lewis Bridger winning his first race in black and gold in six, Bandits managed to scratch out a 20-16 lead.
But it was all square again after eight when Danny Phillips and Ashley Morris, who passed Ryan Blacklock, took another maximum.
Top riders Bridger, Lambert and Stevie Worrall all won over the next four, with Lambert producing another charge in 13 to put a lot of pressure on Bridger in second, and at 38-40 it was too close to call going into the last two heats.
Vissing, whose only slip up to that stage had been a jump out of the start which cost him against Worrall in heat nine, was outgated by Ludvig Lindgren for his only win of the night in 14, and Newcastle had the edge at 41-43 going into the last race.
But Vissing came up trumps in heat 15, despite being passed by Lambert at one stage. In another great race the Dane clipped the kerb cutting back up the inside of the fourth bend and managed to hang on for the win, with Bridger getting the better of Worrall at the back for a last gasp 4-2 which meant both sets of fans went home happy.
Berwick - Vissing 12+1, Bridger 10, Gappmaier 7, Berge 6+1, Doolan 6+1, Blacklock 3+1, Carr 1.
Newcastle - Worrall 11, Lambert 11, Rose 8, Lindgren 5+2, Phillios 5, Morris 4+1, Coles 1.
Berwick were less competitive in the return at Byker in Sunday, with Newcastle coasting to a comfortable 20-point victory.
All the Diamonds’ top five were in the points, with Robert Lambert winning four of his five races and Stevie Worrall taking three chequered flags.
Lewis Bridger was in the thick of the action throughout and top scored with 12 points, winning two races, but Dany Gappmaier, in heat two, was their only other heat winner, although he ended up sidelined after taking a fall in his second outing.
Newcastle: Lambert 14, Lindgren 10+2, Worrall 10+1, Rose 10+1, Morris 7+1, Phillips 3, Coles 1+1.
Berwick: Bridger 12, Blacklock 6+2, Vissing 5+1, Berge 4+1, Gappmaier 3, Doolan 3, Carr 2+1.