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Bandits sneak thriller of a winner against Sheffie

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Berwick "Mike Hope of Wooler Ltd." Bandits (Powered by Clear Energy Consulting) 46
Sheffield "Window Centre" Tigers 44
SGB Championship
(Photo: TazMcd Photography)

The Berwick Bandits hit the League Championship trail last night at Shielfield Park with a visit from the Sheffield Tigers as Jye Etheridge and Coty Garcia returned from injury while Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen was back in harness after his Danish Championship exploits.

Aaron Summers, hitting a truly purple-patch of form, took Heat One easily over former British Champion, Danny King as Captain Kevin Doolan shot under Kasper Andersen off the fourth bend to take a home 4-2, however Heat Two came to a halt off bend two with Flint way out in front, Zaine Kennedy (Pictured above) clipped Coty Garcia's rear wheel and clattered into the fence, his bike going up and over the fence in a moment of high drama.

Thankfully the fallen rider was up and walking back, but was excluded from the re-run, in which Broc Nichol was hauled back but gated well at the third ask only to be overhauled by Flint off bend two in another 4-2, but Heat Thee also was stopped prematurely on bend three when Etheridge tangled with Ty Proctor with both falling heavily and the Bandit excluded with both walking back to the pits as Kennedy was withdrawn with injury from his heat two clash.

Two 3-3s followed maintaining Berwick's narrow lead, then Etheridge proved he had no ill effects from his fall by winning Heat Five with ease over King in a 4-2 which took the scores to 18-12, before there was a return to the shared heats with Summers beating Nichol and Howarth (in as a tactical substitute for the withdrawn Proctor) in Heat Six.

Howarth fell in Heat Seven and was excluded from the re-run which saw Busk Jakobsen take the early lead for three points over Drew Kemp in another home 4-2 to put eight points between the sides, while Etheridge fell again in Heat Nine but couldn't take his place in the re-run despite not being excluded with reserve Flint taking his place, but it was a win for Howarth with Flint at the back behind Nichol for a Tigers' 2-4 narrowing the home lead to six points.

With three races to go, the gap remained at six points, 39-33 with the 13th returning another 3-3 leaving the decisions to be left to the last two races, with Etheridge taking his place in Heat 14 but retired at the back on lap two as Kemp and Nichol took the big five points over Garcia with the 1-5 leaving the match set at 43-41 with one knife-edge to go.

In a cracking last heat Summers roared to the front and held the lead despite a hard challenge from King in a 3-3 to clinch the home victory 46-44.

Team manager Gary Flint said: "We said before tonight that this was going to be the guys' toughest task of the home season so far, and that was more than proven correct as Sheffield, reduced to effectively five men so early on, fought hard and made us sweat and fight for every point with some fierce racing that must have thrilled the supporters in what was by far the best match of the year so far. We've got to go to Owlerton on the reverse fixture this afternoon, and again we are anticipating another tough night at the races."

Individual Riders' Score Chart:

Berwick "Mike Hope of Wooler Ltd." Bandits (Powered by Clear Energy Consulting) 46

1 Aaron Summers 3,3,3,1*,3 = 13+1
2 Kevin Doolan (c) 1,0,3,1 = 5
3 Dany Gappmaier 3,1,2,3 = 9
4 Jye Etheridge Fx,3,Fn,R = 3
5 Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 3,3,2,2,0 = 10
6 Coty Garcia (r) 1,1,0,1 = 3
7 Leon Flint (r) 3,0,0,0,0 = 3

Sheffield "Window Centre" Tigers 44

1 Danny King 2,2,3,3,2 = 12
2 Kasper Andersen 0,0,1*,0,1 = 2+1
3 Ty Proctor 1*,TS,Irr,Irr = 1+1 withdrawn injured
4 Drew Kemp 2,2,2,2,3 = 11
5 Kyle Howarth (c) 2,1*,Fx,3,R,1* = 7+2
6 Broc Nicol (r) 2,1*,2,2,1,1*,2* = 11+3
7 Zaine Kennedy (r) Fx,N,N,N = 0 withdrawn Injured