Bandits dumped as Diamonds dazzle in Shielfield surprise
Berwick Bandits 41-49 Newcastle Diamonds
Newcastle shocked Berwick by getting out the starts and taking the fight to the home side from the off.
They produced seven of the first ten race winners, racking up six heat advantages in the process, and at 20-40 a humiliating home defeat for the Bandits looked to be on the cards.
It might have been even worse had it not been for a blown engine for Ludvig Lindgren off the last bend when sitting third in heat five, whilst Tero Aarnio had two exclusions, although in fairness, his replacements both came in and secured 5-1s for the Diamonds.
It was only in the latter stages of the meeting that Berwick started to come good, narrowing the deficit with four heat advantages of their own in the final five races, although again, the visitors were unlucky when Lindgren shed a chain and fell awkwardly in a scoring position in the last action of the night.
With no Lewis Rose or Stuart Robson, Newcastle used rider replacement and Lewis Kerr as a guest. Kerr did not let the side down with four second places, including two paid wins, but all the Byker boys were paid for at least one victory with reserve Ashley Morris the ace in the pack, picking up three wins and a paid win on his way to a top score of 12+2.
Matty Wethers won his first two races and another two former Bandits, Lindgren and Carl Wilkinson, also both took the chequered flag.
For Berwick, it was a night to forget. Kevin Doolan, in his third meeting in as many nights, unusually failed to score from four outings and John Lindman continued to struggle in only his second meeting on the track.
There were two wins each for Aaron Summers, who battled his way from the back twice, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Dany Gappmaier, whilst Jye Etheridge, still nursing his sore wrist, went unbeaten in his last two.
But overall, Newcastle were deserved winners. They gated well in the early part of the meeting, and whilst Berwick came back at them in the final races, they had already done more than enough .... they will just have been hoping it had been a league match!
After the meeting Berwick co-promoter and team manager Scott Courtney said it was a bad day at the office.
Now, with an away meeting at Edinburgh in the Shield on Friday, and a home league fixture against a strong Lakeside on Saturday, co-promoter and team manager Scott Courtney is calling on his riders to get their act together.
“That didn’t go according to plan and we got battered off Newcastle,” he said. “We could over analyse and find excuses, but we are not in the habit of making excuses. The simple fact is they were a lot quicker than us out of the gate and the better team definitely won.
“We certainly weren’t as good as we had been the previous week against Glasgow, but that is the level we need our riders to be at if we are to get anything out of our meetings against Edinburgh and Lakeside this weekend.
“All I can say is thank God it was a challenge - in the Tyne Tweed Trophy first leg - and not a league fixture .. but I am sure Newcastle will be saying the opposite!”
Courtney added: “It was a shock to find ourselves 20 points down at one stage, but the lads showed character to fight back and cut the deficit to eight.
“That’s the character we will need against Edinburgh, where everyone knows how difficult it is to get results there, and against Lakeside, who have a strong side and showed their capabilities by winning at Ipswich.
Berwick: Summers 10, Jakobsen 9+1, Gappmaier 9, Etheridge 6+2, Howe 5, Lindman 2, Doolan 0.
Newcastle: Morris 12+2, Wethers 11+1, Kerr 8+2, Wilkinson 8+2, Lindgren 6, Aarnio 4+1, Rose - r/rep.