The Bandits finally break their duck with first league victory
Berwick Bandits 50-40 Peterborough Panthers
Berwick finally recorded their first league win of the season when, at the 11th attempt, they took full match points for a ten point home victory over Peterborough at Shielfield.
Remarkably, it was the first time the Bandits had beaten the Panthers in nearly 19 seasons, their last ever victory, home or away, over the Cambridgeshire side having been way back in the last century (1998)!
The win, in many respects, was down to the form of Nick Morris, who dropped only one point (in his opening ride) and reserve Daniel Gappmaier, who weighed in with a more than useful paid 14 score, which included four paid race wins.
But that’s not to take anything away from new signing David Howe, who on his home debut, bounced back from a shaky start with two wins, proving that he could be a useful acquisition to the side.
For the visitors, four of their riders managed to take the chequered flag, with the pick of the bunch being Paul Starke and guest Lasse Bjerre.
The meeting only survived because Berwick had the foresight to put the covers over their entire track, preventing what would have been an almost certain rain-off.
There was never much between the sides in the early exchanges with only two points separating the teams all the way through to heat seven, with Berwick leading 22-20.
During that period Lasse Bjerre and Simon Lambert achieved the only 1-5 for the Panthers in heat five, whilst Berwick could perhaps count themselves a little fortunate in heat seven when Bridger fell in second heat seven, when Peterborough were on a 2-4, but Dany Gappmaier emerged to win the re-run.
Peterborough went four points up at 22-26 in eight, but Howe got his act together after two poor opening rides and his 5-1 with Kevin Doolan in nine saw it al square again at 27-27.
There was a blow for the Panthers when Simon Lambert, who had scored well in his first three rides, was withdrawn from the meeting after a spill in ten, and Berwick took advantage in the re-run to hit the front.
Two more heat advantages (4-2s) in 12 and 13, put them within touching distance of a first win of the season at 42-36 and the Bandits finally broke their duck in 14 when Doolan and Gappmaier raced away for a 5-1 to put them in an unassailable position at 47-37.
It prompted ‘Hallelujah’ being played over the tannoy, much to the amusement of fans, but in truth it meant riders, management and fans were finally able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Nick Morris then completed his night with his fourth win in 15 to put the icing on the cake.
Afterwards, skipper Kevin Doolan said: “Well, that’s the monkey finally off our back.
“We have had a lot of bad luck so far this season, and on a couple of occasions it looked as if we might be out of luck again, but thankfully we managed to pull it together as a team and get that first win under our belts.”
Manager Gary Havelock added: “This was a long, long time coming for us and from our point of view it was pure relief.
“We’ve been so unlucky so far this year. We knew changes had to be made, and we made them and look at the difference! David Howe is a great signing, and he’s already showing what a class rider he is.
“Nick Morris has really got to grips with the Championship now and will be a sensation in our matches, he is the real number one Berwick have been crying out for.”
Berwick: Morris 14, Gappmaier 13+1, Doolan 7+1, Howe 7, Bridger 4, Etheridge 3+1, Payne 2.
Peterborough: Starke 11+1, Bjerre 9, Ostergaard 8, A Morris 6+2, Lambert 6+2, Bacon 0, Hansen - rider replacement.
* Berwick had been due to race at Peterborough in the Championship on Friday, but the meeting was postponed due to the weather conditions.
This Saturday (May 27) the Bandits will face Redcar at Shielfield when they will be looking for their second home victory.