No happy ending for battling Bandits

Published on 23rd June 2024
Author George Dodds
Erik Riss and Sam Hagon lead the early Bandits’ charge (Taylor Lanning)

Jewson Bandits, powered by Keenwood Karpets     43

Glasgow Tigers    47

Frustrating barely sums up the weekend.

One where twice the Jewson Bandits worked themselves into potentially match-winning positions only to be blown out of the water by the Tigers.

Five points were within touching distance but a blank weekend means that it would take a mathematical miracle to qualify for the end of season play-offs. The fat lady may not be in full voice but she has taken a deep breath and is on the verge of letting rip.

And adding to the misery was the fact that that Saturday’s loss – the Bandits’ sixth in a row – was orchestrated by two of their most popular old boys.

Chris Harris was beaten only once by a Berwick rider in 11 outings this weekend – Drew Kemp – his only other blemish a heat 15 exclusion when referee Gary Allen ruled that his divebomb which caused Kemp, the Bandits’ top scorer, to fall heavily while in the lead was illegal.

Leon Flint also dropped just one point on his return to the track where he first made his name as a teenager, pipped by good friend and former team-mate Jye Etheridge in his opening ride but flawless otherwise and somewhat surprisingly overlooked for the final heat showdown.

Steve Worrall won the rerun of 15, his second victory of the night the tenth and final Tigers’ heat win – the three visiting heat leaders accounting for all but one of them and 35 of their side’s points.

There was a heavy price to pay in defeat for the home side, Jason Garrad suffering a suspected broken wrist and losing a tooth in a heavy heat 14 fall, fellow guest Sam Hagon also needing dental work after his heat 12 spill.

Perversely Berwick’s downfall can be traced back to their successful start to the meeting as they built up a six point lead after five heats.

Close action from Chris Harris, Danyon Hume and Lewis Kerr(Taz McDougall)

Hume managed to split the Tigers’ pairing in the opening heat before guests Hagon and the fast-starting Garrad streaked clear of Jack Smith and Ace Pijper to take maximum points in the reserves’ race.

Etheridge than rode the perfect race, swooping wide off turn two to lower the colours of SGP2 man Flint his partner Kemp refusing to give up despite trailing into the last bend when he found the drive to pip James Pearson on the run to the line, his third place confirmed after the referee studied the BSN replays.

Riss then won a strung out fourth race with Hagon comfortably ahead of Ace Pijper but what was looking like a Berwick romp was turned on its head.

That six-point deficit allowed Tigers’ team boss Cami Brown to play is trump card, introducing Harris as a tactical sub and rubbing his hands in glee as the Glasgow skipper joined Worrall in a 5-1 with neither Lewi Kerr nor Hume able to knock them off their stride.

Glasgow looked set to level the match in seven with Flint comfortably in front of Riss only for Pearson to drift too wide and clout the home straight fence on the last lap, Garrad taking advantage as his opponent’s cutout was yanked free to sneak through for a gifted point.

Hume came to the party with a dominant win in eight, Hagon’s third place extending the home lead to four points.

Two shared heats followed but the ominous signs were that Glasgow won both. Another stunning wide pass from Harris saw him pass Riss for the win in 11, Starke easily accounting for Garrad to halve the deficit and the match was level again after an eventfully heat 12.

Jye Etheridge inside Leon Flint (Keith Hamblin)

Flint again was off to the races with Etheridge unable to challenge his old team-mate. Hagon held third place until he picked up drive on the second bend of the last lap, slamming into the polyfoam barrier. Fortunately, Smith was able to throw his bike down to avoid what could have been a hugely damaging collision with the stricken rider, the awarded point well deserved for his lightning reflexes.

That levelled the scores and, as they had done 24 hours’ earlier, Glasgow dominated the closing three races.

Kerr had his best ride of the night to split the Harris and Worrall but Glasgow were still ahead for the first time on the night.

Heat 14 was going to be crucial and the pressure seemed to tell on Garrad who ploughed through the tapes. With Hagon out of the meeting there was no option but for the guest to start of 15 metres.

Smith then produced a peach of a gate and, despite all his best efforts, Kemp couldn’t find a way past.

 

Chris Harris and Erik Riss battle (Taz McDougall)

Behind them drama unfolded as Pearson lost power on the last lap allowing Garrad, at one point a full straight adrift, through only for him to catastrophically misjudge the entrance to the third bend, drifting wide and colliding with the barrier at speed before being thrown violently over his handlebars, Pearson cruising past the stricken rider and freewheeling over the line for a point which left Berwick needing a 5-1 to force a Super Heat.

Kempt had ridden a superb race to defeat Harris in heat five showing nerves of steel and resilience to keep the throttle open after clouting the second bend fence on the last lap as he hung on to the flag.

And Kemp was ahead again in the final heat, Harris deflecting off the third bend fence on the first lap and then riding the Berwick man hard out towards the same area of fence on lap two.

After consulting the TV replays the referee excluded Harris. Those replays showed that while there was no actual contact the Berwick rider was left with nowhere to go by the aggressive move. Not that Harris agreed arguing loudly but in vain for a reprieve. Worrall won the rerun to rubber stamp the win.

Bandits: Lewis Kerr 5, Danyon Hume 6+1, Jye Etheridge 7, Drew Kemp 9+1, Erik Riss 8+1, Jason Garrad 3+2, Sam Hagon 5

Tigers: Chris Harris 14, Paul Starke 3+1, Leon Flint 11, James Pearson 1, Steve Worrall 11+1, Jack Smith 7, Ace Pijper 4

Danyon tries to prevent Steve Worrall and Chris Harris in heat six(Keith Hamblin)
George Dodds
George Dodds

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