Berwick Bandits suffer defeat in speedway season opener

Bandits' Jonas Knudsen and Thomas Jorgensen race Redcar Bears' Charles Wright at Redcar. Picture: Colin PooleBandits' Jonas Knudsen and Thomas Jorgensen race Redcar Bears' Charles Wright at Redcar. Picture: Colin Poole
Bandits' Jonas Knudsen and Thomas Jorgensen race Redcar Bears' Charles Wright at Redcar. Picture: Colin Poole
Berwick Bandits’ season didn’t get off to the start they were hoping for after they went down 53-37 at Redcar Bears in the first leg of the Direct Cab Championship Knockout Cup.

However, Bandits boss Gary Flint says Redcar’s 16-point first leg advantage can be pulled back when the sides settle the first round tie at Shielfield Park on April 29.

An eventful Sunday evening in Cleveland eventually turned on two crashes.

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The first, on the parade laps, saw Bandits’ skipper Leon Flint injure an ankle and write-off his number one bike when he hit the fourth bend fence.

A three-point return was a well below-par haul on a track where recent impressive performances by the 20-year-old include a five-ride maximum to clinch the British Under-19 title last season.

In contrast, Redcar’s loss of Jake Mulford after a crash in heat two allowed fellow reserve Jason Edwards to step in and top score from seven rides.

The scores were close in the early exchanges – Berwick debutant Rory Schlein looking the fastest man on track in his opening ride, but a track on which passing was at a premium meant the Australian couldn’t find a way past Edwards.

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Danish duo Jonas Knudsen and Thomas Jorgensen inflicted a rare 1-5 on home skipper Charles Wright in heat five, but Edwards then orchestrated back-to-back 5-1s to open up a 10 point lead after eight heats.

Berwick did begin to find their gating gloves, with Schlein especially impressive, but Redcar continued to pick up the vital minor placings to extend their lead.

Jye Etheridge won heat 14, but, despite the effort of Schlein to find a way past King, Redcar extended their lead in the nominated heat 15.

Once the dust settled, Flint said: “In all honesty we wanted to keep it a bit closer, but I cannot fault anyone’s efforts.

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“By the time the teams meet for the second leg we will have four more matches under our belts and be fully dialled in.”

The Bandits are next in action on April 14-15 when they meet Glasgow Tigers away and at home in the first round of BSN Series fixtures.

The GHT Bullets, powered by STS, open their National Development League campaign with a trip to Belle Vue on Good Friday (April 7) and Leicester on Saturday.

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