TO PROGRESS to the Grand Final of the 2012 Premier Challenge Trophy, the Berwick Bandits travelled to the Glasgow Tigers on Sunday afternoon knowing a win, draw or defeat by no more than 12 points would grant them success – and one final home meeting next Saturday night, writes Lawrence Heppell.
And they went about the business in magnificent style, demoralising an injury-hit, guest-filled Glasgow side not only to restrict their loss but take a fine six-point victory extending their season by one week.
The Bandits put in a solid team show, with reserve Nicki Barrett topping the score chart with an excellent 12-point haul, his success starting with a mammoth Heat Two win comfortably from the gate in the second 3-3 of the tight meeting.
Glasgow took the lead with a Heat Three 4-2 led by their guest from Redcar, Kevin Doolan from the start but behind Robin Aspegren forced his way round the Tigers second guest, Mathew Wethers from Edinburgh coming off bend four taking the score to 10-8.
The Bandits took the lead in Heat Four with the superbly in-form Sebastian Alden, racing hard behind home skipper James Grieves, took full advantage of the Tiger’s engine blowing up on the last bend handing the maximum 1-5 to the visitors who now led 11-13.
Berwick’s Edinburgh-based guest Theo Pijper made short shrift of the gate in Heat Five, as did his young Aussie partner Mickey Dyer to take a second 1-5 in succession over Doolan to extend the rampant Bandits’ lead to 12-18.
A win for Plymouth’s Ryan Fisher, also guesting for Glasgow, in a Heat Six 4-2 and a well taken three points for Wethers in the eighth ahead of Barrett with Charles Wright holding out Dyer at the back the second 4-2 tightened the score to a nervy 23-25 with half the match left to run.
Doolan’s rapid gate gave him three points in Heat Nine followed by his partner Wethers, but with a slight lapse of confidence almost ran into Doolan’s back wheel causing Wethers to drift and allow Alden in for second which levelled the match at 27-all.
Bellego and Aspegren flew from the Heat 10 gate but the fast-moving Fisher shot round Aspegren coming off bend four on the opening lap to take second in the Bandit’s 2-4, but better was to come with a stunning Pijper/Dyer 1-5 in the 11th, after the young Australian performed a tremendous pass round both Tiger, including home expert Grieves to take the score on to 30-36.
The Bandits effectively sealed their Premier Challenge Trophy Final place with another superb win from Barrett, backed up admirably by Aspegren in another Bandit’s maximum, whilst Barrett was on his way to a final win in Heat 15 too only for Grieves to accidentally take his partner Fisher off, whist in the re-run Fisher made the better gate to make sure Barrett ended in second place, but the Bandits had achieved their goal.
Team manager Ian Rea was in buoyant mood saying: “At last after this appalling season thanks to the massive number of injuries we’ve suffered, we finally show our true potential and make the season-ending trophy final against the Rye House Rockets next Saturday at home and then at Rye House on Sunday evening when hopefully we can add this piece of silverware to our Four Team Championship trophy from the Summer.”