Bullets aim to tame Tigers

Published on 1st September 2022
Author George Dodds
Doing battle again … Kyle Bickley, Jason Edwards, Jack Kingston and Greg Blair. Picture: Taz McDougall

Berwick’s GHT Bullets are on a mission to tame the Tigers when they  travel to Mildenhall on Sunday for a meeting which has taken on huge significance as the end-of-season National Development League play-offs loom.

Their hosts lobbed a hand grenade into the mix by recording huge home and away victories over Oxford last week which leaves the Challengers looking likely to miss out on the fourth and final spot as the Bullets and Leicester are suddenly looking nervously over their shoulders.

The pair have set the pace at the top of the table all season and for so long it seemed to be simply a question of which finished first and second, avoiding each other in the semi-finals (top faces fourth and second the third-placed  team).

But now Mildenhall can finish on 30 points if they beat the Bullets and bottom of the table Plymouth when they wrap up their fixtures with Sunday afternoon’s double header, start 2pm.

The Bullets, who also visit Leicester on September 10, currently have 29 points while the Lion Cubs, who host Kent on Saturday night, and visit Armadale on September 23, in addition to hosting Berwick, have 25.

Oxford, whose hugely successful return campaign concludes with a home clash against Kent on Wednesday. They could finish the fixtures on 26 points, leaving Belle Vue to find at least two points from their remaining fixtures at Kent and Armadale to pip the Challengers.

Even Kent, with a maximum of 14 points available from their four remaining fixtures, could qualify – indeed maximum points could potentially see them top the league standings.

“There’s an incredible number of permutations which just goes to show how evenly balanced the league has been this season,” Bullets team manager Gary Flint said.

“But really it comes down to the Bullets concentrating on their own job. If we pick up points then there is nothing Mildenhall or Leicester can do.

Connor Coles and Luke Crang clash earlier in the season. Picture: Keith Hamblin

“Mildenhall pipped us for the title last year when there weren’t any play-offs and any realistic hopes we had disappeared when we lost Luke and Ben in a crash early in what was effectively a title decider at West Row.

“It’s never an easy place to go to but all our riders, even Ace in the youth set-up, have ridden there in the past while Greg has been able to pass on some tips after guesting for Oxford there last Sunday.”

Kyle Bickley returns to the track where he finished second behind home skipper Jason Edwards in the British under-21 semi-final in May, a jarred neck forcing him to miss Wednesday night’s final at Birmingham.

Mildenhall have called up Leicester’s Connor Coles as a guest in place of the injured James Shanes while they operate rider-replacement for another injured rider, Sam Bebee.

The Bullets won the fixture at Shielfield by six points earlier in the season, Bickley dropping just one point and Blair also in double figures on a night of typically solid Bullets’ scoring.

Tigers: Jason Edwards, Josh Warren, Rider-replacement (Sam Bebee), Jack Kingston, Connor Coles, Luke Muff, Alex Spooner

Bullets: Kyle Bickley, Ace Pijper, Mason Watson, Luke Crang, Greg Blair, Kieran Douglas, Ben Rathbone.

George Dodds
George Dodds

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