Berwick Bandits 52-43 Redcar Bears

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Inspired by a superb paid 21 point maximum from Matej Kus, Berwick picked up a vital home win over Redcar to guarantee their place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Kus stormed to six wins, and followed team-mate Steen Jensen home for a 5-1 in another race as he went unbeaten in seven outings, becoming the first Bandit in over a decade to achieve the feat.

But Redcar had their own agenda - they were after league points of their own to try and squeeze their way into the top six - and despite Kus’s heroics they forced a last heat decider for the bonus point, but still left empty handed.

Berwick were using rider-replacement for skipper Matty Wethers and were also without Frenchman David Bellego, who was riding in the European 721 Championship, and so drafted in James Sarjeant from the National League as a guest.

The Bears also used a guest, Edinburgh’s Sam Masters, who was riding in place of number one Richard Lawson, who was racing in the Elite League with his parent club, Lakeside.

With Kus and Jensen both unbeaten in their early rides, and Kevin Doolan showing some fighting spirit, Berwick established an early 28-17 lead, despite Aaron Summers winning heat six as a double pointed tactical ride for the visitors.

One of the best races early on was between Doolan and fellow Aussie Mark Lemon, the Bandit just pipping his compatriot for second place on the line after giving chase for four laps in heat three.

Despite the use of two tactical rides, Redcar still trailed 38-27 after 10 and Berwick looked set for a potential comfortable victory.

But the Bears hit back with two 1-5s in heats 11 and 13, Hugh Skidmore achieving his third win of the night in 11, and with Kus having completed his seven rides by this stage - he hit his milestone in heat 12 - they were still in the hunt for a shock victory, finding themselves just five adrift at 44-39.

However, a 5-1 from Jensen and Alex Edberg in 14 settled Berwick’s nerves, guaranteeing the win.

The bonus was still up for grans, and despite not having won a race so far, it was Claus Vissing who burst from the gate when it was needed in heat 15 to make sure the Bandits took all three points on offer.

Overall, a memorable night for Kus, with Jensen weighing in with four paid wins for the Bandits. Summers and Skidmore were always in the thick of the action for Redcar, but ultimately it was Matej’s magic that swung it Berwick’s way.

Berwick 52

Claus Vissing © 2,2,E,1,3 8

James Sarjeant 0,1*,0,0 1+1

Steen Jensen 3,2*,3,1,3,0 12+1

Matthew Wethers – Rider replacement

Kevin Doolan 2*,1,2*1,0 6+2

Alex Edberg 1,N,2,R,2* 5+1

Matej Kus 3,3,3,3,2*,3,3 20+1

Redcar 43

Sam Masters (guest) 1,1,2*,2* 6+2

Hugh Skidmore 3,0,3,3,1* 10+1

Mark Lemon 1,0,4^,2 7

Carl Wilkinson 0,1,1*,F 2+1

Aaron Summers © 2,6^,1,3,2 14

Jan Graversen 2,0,0,0 2

Rafal Konopka F,0,1,1 2