Battling Bullets push champs to the limit

Published on 9th April 2023
Author George Dodds

Leicester Lion Cubs 47

GHT Bullets, powered by STS 42

Reserve Jamie Halder capped an exhausting weekend with a man-of-the match performance as the battling Bullets bounced back from their Belle Vue nightmare in superb style.

Injuries to his team-mates means that the man recruited from Kent during the winter appeared in 14 heats over the two days. And on Saturday he reminded the Leicester management why they had named him in their 2021 side only for a broken ankle suffered in a freak home accident to cost him a team place.

With number one Connor Coles remembering the fastest line around Beaumont Leys the Bullets made a mockery of pre-match score predictors, running the defending champions close.

Forced to use rider-replacement for head injury victim Mason Watson and the Geordie nation pairing of Archie Freeman and Josh Embleton replaced by guests the visitors were up against it from the off.

An exhausting but rewarding weekend for Jamie Halder: Pictures: Taz McDougall

But they showed true grit and determination to keep the Cubs in their sights throughout despite a five-ride maximum from talisman Dan Thompson and will also fancy their chances of picking up the aggregate bonus point when the teams meet again in August.

It was an incident packed night in the east Midlands and, after two shared heats, the Bullets briefly took the lead in a twice rerun third race.Danny Phillips and Max Perry clashed in the first running, and then in the rerun Kai Ward flipped his bike out of the start and was not under power when Perry fell again, this time on his own, and the red lights came on. With the pair excluded Phillips beat Tom Spencer in a match race.

Greg Blair had suffered a mechanical nightmare in Manchester but with Watson’s engine bolted into his frame he looked much more on the pace and split the Leicester pairing in four.

Despite still suffering the after-effects of his own big crash in the incident which left Freeman with a broken tibia and fibula, Coles picked off first Spencer and then Perry in fine style but Blair and Ward found themselves on the wrong end of a Dan Thompson/Ashton Boughen heat maximum.

Guest George Congreve had a largely disappointing night but the former Newcastle and current Mildenhall man slotted in behind Halder for a heat eight 5-1 which reduced the deficit to a point.

Blair celebrated his first win of the season in typical style before Halder and Phillips combined to keep Boughen at bay and then Coles inflicted the first defeat of the night on his former team-mate Joe Thompson.

Perry and Halder were battling for the lead in 12 when Vinny Foord found grip and space to roar past the Bullets’ number seven and join his team-mate for a 5-1 which finally gave the home side some breathing space.

The heat 13 battle of the big guns turned into an epic, Joe Thompson falling at the first time of asking and then a bit of argy-bargy between Dan Thompson and Coles saw the Berwick man dumped to the ground and the referee call all four riders back.

At the third time of asking the Cubs’ number one won comfortable and the spoils were shared again.

The penultimate heat was equally eventful with Foord excluded after breaking the tapes and Spencer also excluded as he bit the dust in the rerun.

In the end only three riders contested the second restart but any hopes of a Bullets win ended when James found a way past Halder to share the points.

Joe Thompson’s challenging night continued when his bike expired as the tapes rose on 15, his twin completing yet another National League maximum with Blair and Coles in hot pursuit.

After a shaky start to their campaign the Bullets showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the NDL again this season, especially when they get back to a full complement.

Cubs: D Thompson 15, Boughen 3+1, Perry 7, Spencer 4+1, J Thompson 8, Foord 6+2, James 4

Bullets: Coles 12, Congreve 3+ 2, Watson r/r, Phillips 7+2, Blair 8+2, Ward 1+1, Halder 11+1.

 

A fruitful return to Leicester for Connor Coles
George Dodds
George Dodds

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