Agony as victory dream slips away

Published on 21st June 2024
Author George Dodds
German precision … Erik leads Leon Flint and James Pearson

Glasgow Tigers    48

Jewson Bandits, powered by Keenwood Karpets         41

Hopes of a first Berwick win at Ashfield in a decade were cruelly snuffed out by one of the Bandits’ most popular old boys.

Sadly for the visitors – who led by three points after 12 races – Chris Harris was at his imperious best, bagging a paid maximum which included two trademark last-to-first dashes to the line.

Despite the efforts of super guests Erik Riss and Sam Hagon along with skipper Lewis Kerr Berwick could not bring it home, back-to-back 1-5s in the last two heats wrenching victory from their grasp.

But it does set the reverse fixture at Shielfield Park tomorrow night up nicely with the Bandits not only straining to avenge the loss but eyeing up the aggregate bonus point for good measure.

As always in matches between the sides, especially those with referee Jim McGregor on the button, there was no shortage of talking points and controversy including an epic four-times’ re-run heat eight.

An evening which began in grey drizzle soon warmed up the fans on the terraces, Kerr having to work hard to account for Paul Starke in the opening heat with Harris off in the distance and then Jack Smith going tapes-to-flag in the reserves’ race, Berwick’s third guest Jason Garrad comfortably taking third place.

Riss produced a clinical cutback to account for fast-starting Tigers’ pair Leon Flint and James Pearson but the travelling Berwick fans must have feared it was to be business as usual in G22 as first Steve Worrall and then Pijper picked off Hagon and went on to a comfortable 5-1 which opened up a six-point lead after five races.

Glory, glory … Lewis and Danyon en route to a 5-1

Kerr and Hume replied in perfect fashion as they left Flint and Pearson in their wake but Glasgow got another heat advantage as Jye Etheridge relegated Starke to third but couldn’t lay a glove on Harris.

Smith hit the deck on the first bend after a tight start to the first running of heat seven before Riss and Kemp made no mistake in the rerun for a 5-1 which levelled the scores. And set up an eighth race which probably deserves it’s own podcast and highlights reel let alone a couple of pars in a match report.

First off Hume was too eager to build on his previous success and broke the tapes, his replacement, Garrad, then hitting the deck alongside Starke and Smith after a domino effect began by Hagon on the inside. After lengthy repairs to the polyfoam barrier the riders was caught cold when Mr McGregor excluded Pijper and Garrad for not being ready to race after the two minute clock expired.

Berwick were reduced to one rider and so were Glasgow when Smith failed to beat the fresh two minutes, Hagon eventually beating Starke in the resulting match race to put the Bandits in front by a point.

The Essex teenager was out again in the next race and taking the chequered flag again, Etheridge caught by Pearson to ruin the initial visiting 5-1 but holding off Flint to ensure Berwick extended the lead.

And they looked to be moving a further four points ahead of the home side when Riss passed Starke to join Kemp at the front of heat 10. Harris had other ideas and accounted for the German on lap three before riding the perfect line off the final bend to catch Kemp inches from the flag.

Worrall was off into the distance in the next race but Berwick looked capable of sharing the heat only for Hume to lock up and allow Smith through. Pijper was a little fortunate to get called back after falling on the first bend in 12 and then Flint, quiet up until then, produced a lightening start in the rerun.

Riss and Hagon were all over the SGP2 man’s back wheel before the German used the line that had worked so well for Harris to clinch the drag race to the line, Hagon’s third place opening up a three-point lead.

Harris was at it again in 13 as Kerr initially led from Worrall with Hagon third. The ex-Berwick skipper accounted for the young reserve on the second lap, his team-mate and circuit later and then went out to the fence on the last bend to swoop around the current Berwick captain, reducing the visitors’ lead to a point.

Kemp will rarely have worked harder for a measly point than in the breathtaking penultimate heat. He was slightly sluggish off the start and no matter how hard and how many lines he tried there was no way past Pearson or Smith.

The Bandits then found themselves staring down a somewhat unflattering final scoreline as Riss was eased wide by Worrall in the last heat and then Harris blasted around him to complete what, even by his standards, was an outstanding maximum.

All to play for tomorrow night. Early bird tickets are available until midnight (Friday). It’s £20 for e-ticket or cash on Saturday. Buy tickets

Glasgow: Chris Harris 14+1, Paul Starke 4, Leon Flint 4+1, James Pearson 6+1, Steve Worrall 11, Jack Smith 7, Ace Pijper 2+1

Berwick: Lewis Kerr 9, Danyon Hume 2+1, Erik Riss 11+1, Drew Kemp 5+1, Jye Etheridge 4, Jason Garrad 1+1, Sam Hagon 9

Off and running, heat one action from Ashfield
Pictures: Taylor Lanning
George Dodds
George Dodds

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