Bandits undone as Diamonds shine in KO Cup encounter
Newcastle Diamonds 99-81- Berwick Bandits
Berwick exited the KO Cup at the first hurdle, the quarter-final stage, when they were beaten by old rivals Newcastle over two legs at the weekend.
The Bandits won the first leg by six points, 48-42 at Shielfield on Saturday, but the Diamonds overturned the deficit with a 57-33 win at Brough Park on Sunday, giving them a comfortable 18-point aggregate victory.
Berwick were without the services of their skipper, Kevin Doolan, who was ruled out after suffering concussion in a fall at Eastbourne the previous weekend.
They used rider replacement in the home leg but drafted in former Bandit Paul Starke as a guest for the trip to Tyneside 24 hours later.
In the first leg three wins from his first three starts by Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen gave Berwick a slight advantage in the early stages, wins by Leon Flint and Jye Etheridge helping the Borderers lead 26-22 after eight races.
Dany Gappmaier then won in nine, and Aaron Summers in ten, but it was a battling second place from Flint in ten, who held of Lasse Bjerre for four pulsating laps, which had the crowd on it’s feet.
The 5-1 saw Berwick go eight points clear at 34-26, which increased to ten at 41-31 when Gappmaier and Flint took a 4-2 in 12.
But the Byker boys were in no mood to let the Bandits run away with it and with Stevie Worrall once again showing his liking for the Tweedside track by winning four of his five races, dropping only one point from five starts, they succeeded in their aim of damage limitation.
Wins by Worrall in 11 and 13 kept the gap at ten points (44-34), a deficit which was maintained when former Bandit Matthew Wethers won heat 14 (47-37).
But a 1-5 from Worrall and another ex-Bandit Thomas Jorgensen in 15 saw the visitors cut the gap to six at the end of the meeting, which even the most ardent of Bandits’ fans accepted would be a tough ask in the second leg.
And so it proved as Newcastle found themselves back on level terms within two races at Brough on Sunday, taking a 5-1 and 4-2 from the opening races.
Jakobsen and Starke were Berwick’s only race winners in the first half of the meeting, and with the Diamonds dominant, they found themselves 36-18 up after nine (78-66 on aggregate) and well on their way to victory.
Summers won two races in 10 and 15, but it was all too little too late as the Diamonds eased their way through to the semi-finals and a clash with Edinburgh Monarchs.
For the home side Worrall was again in imperious form, racing to a nine, paid 12 maximum, whilst Bjerre dropped only one point from five starts, to Summers in heat 15, by which time the Geordies were already home and dry.
Scorers at Shielfield:
Berwick - Jakobsen 13+1, Gappmaier 10+1, Flint 8+1, Garcia 6+1, Etheridge 5+2, Doolan rider rep.
Newcastle - Worrall 14, Jorgensen 8+2, Bjerre 8, Wethers 6+2, Clegg 3+1, Bukhave 3, Phillips 0.
Scorers at Brough:
Newcastle - Bjerre 13+1, Clegg 11+1, Worrall 9+3, Wethers 9+1, Jorgensen 9, Wallinger 3+1, Phillips 3.
Berwick - Summers 10, Starke (guest) 7+1, Flint 7, Garcia 5+1, Jakobsen 3, Etheridge 1, Gappmaier 0.