Top-form Bandits leave Plymouth Devils standing

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Berwick Bandits were looking for better fortune in their third away match in three days on Sunday, having suffered defeats at Sheffield the previous two nights, writes Lawrence Heppell.

They found it in spectacular style at the Saint Boniface Arena against the Plymouth Devils, taking one of their all-time biggest away league victories in more than 43 years of racing.

The Northumbrian visitors got off to the best possible start with Sebastian Alden and Ludvig Lindgren leaving home star Ben Barker floundering and struggling in third place with the Bandits going 1-5 up.

After a fall for Jade Mudgway on the opening bend of heat two, Kyle Hughes took the win in a home 4-2. Jesper Kristiansen was removed from the third after falling in a wheel-to-wheel tussle with Berwick’s Kozza Smith, stopping the race. A three-man re-run gave an easy 1-5 to Berwick.

Lee Complin and Mudgway made the perfect gate in heat four to leave former Bandit Guglielmo Franchetti and Ricky Wells lost at the back for yet another Bandits’ max as the scored raced to 7-17.

The Bandits were romping to victory after victory and shocking the home riders as Alden and Lindgren hit the side’s fourth five-points past the Devils in heat five to go 8-22 up.

Barker was nominated by Plymouth’s manager as a tactical ride in the sixth for double points to try to halt the Bandits devastating onslaught and, to a degree, his six-point win from the gate did just that with a home 6-3 to put the Devils within 11 points of the rampaging Border Reivers.

Franc’s bike packed up just before the start of heat seven. He was replaced by Mudgway in the re-start, and Smith engaged in a stunning chase of Wells and Franchetti, went dramatically wide on bend three of the last lap, passed Wells, bounced off the fence and passed the Italian to share the race with only inches to spare.

Lindgren and Mitch Davey got the Bandits back on the max trail in the eighth with another 1-5, taking Berwick 15 up, allowing Kristiansen the chance of a tactical ride for the Devils in heat nine, but in a truly awful-looking crash with Complin well out in front, Hynek Stichauer was ejected over the safety fence “like a rag doll” as Kristiansen went under him with the tactical man excluded and Berwick awarded a 2-4 victory.

Stichauer thankfully walked back to the pits with Berwick now 20-37 ahead going into the 10th.

Barker took the late running of heat 10 with ease in a home 4-2 to tighten the match to 24-39 as Smith fell trying to pass Lee Smart mid-race whilst a heat 11 Swedish 1-5 from Alden and Lindgren sealed the win for the Bandits with four races left on the card at a remarkable 25-44.