Defeat by Brummies ends Berwick Bandits' hopes of grabbing a play-off spot

A fourth defeat in five Cab Direct Championship fixtures effectively ended Berwick’s hopes of reaching the end of season play-offs, at the same time catapulting the buzzing Birmingham Brummies into the mix.
Brummie Paul Starke keeps a close eye on Connor Coles. Picture: Taz McDougallBrummie Paul Starke keeps a close eye on Connor Coles. Picture: Taz McDougall
Brummie Paul Starke keeps a close eye on Connor Coles. Picture: Taz McDougall

It was a familiar story for the Bandits as they “lost” the closing four races 16-8, Birmingham guest Richard Lawson recording his second maximum 12 months at the pacy Borders’ circuit, skipper Justin Sedgmen dropping a solitary point and the visiting middle order all performing strongly.

In contrast, Berwick managed just six race winners.

Three came from Rory Schlein, who took the battle to the Brummies in style, but even his night ended badly as a heavy first bend fall saw him unable to take his part in the rerun of heat 15.

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Jye Etheridge continued his good run of home scores with another double figure haul, but captain Leon Flint managed just five points.

His third bend fall while second in heat four gave Birmingham a lead they never surrendered, even though the home side did draw the scores level again and maintained that parity over the middle heats.

Connor Coles recovered from a poor start in heat eight to dive up the inside Paul Starke down the back straight only for the former Bandit to take his front wheel from under him going onto the third bend, referee Chris Durno incensing most of the crowd by excluding the home man.

Schlein aggressively cut back inside Troy Batchelor to ensure a share in 10, but the Brummies edged ahead again when a terrible gate from the Bandits pairing saw Richard Lawson and Stefan Nielsen on a 5-1 before Steve Boxall forced his way past the Danish-born Brummie.

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Coles turned the tables on Starke in 12, going hard under him into the third bend and taking out his opponent’s front wheel, but again the Berwick reserve was adjudged the guilty party and excluded.

Etheridge split the visiting pairing in the rerun but when Schlein was unable to get past Lawson in 13 the Brummies were over the line.

Team manager Kevin Little said: “Until it’s mathematically impossible we will not give up the fight to reach the play-offs, but it is really out of our hands now; we would have to win all our remaining fixtures and hope other teams slip up.”