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Bandits go 3rd in league as Academy retain title

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Berwick "KLS" Bandits (Powered by Mike Hope of Wooler) 55
Peterborough "T.Balfe Construction" Panthers 35
SGB Championship

Buoyed by a surprise draw at Scunthorpe the night before the Berwick "KLS" Bandits (Powered by Mike Hope of Wooler)were well and truly up for a battle with the league leaders, the Peterborough Panthers last night at Shielfield Park with only victory on their minds, but with 7-time British Champion Scott Nicholls leading the visitors charge, it was going to be tough.

As it was at the end Berwick became the first team all season to send Peterborough home with no league points, but Nichols had held a Shielfield Park masterclass with six virtually perfect races - taking his points not from the gate, but thanks to expert positioning, control and passing which puts him near the very top of "best Berwick visitors of all time" list in an outstanding match for the British veteran.

The track looked at its very best too, and produced the best entertainment of the year with huge thanks going to track curator, Ian Rae and the track team who produced a brilliant surface for racing, which was bristling with stunning passes all night.

Nicholls was out in Heat One and while second out of the gate forced his way under Kevin Doolan to take up the lead off bend two in a shared 3-3 before Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Theo Pijper came out of a tight opening bend to lead and take a solid home 5-1 putting Berwick four ahead.

Bradley Wilson Dean was excluded from Heat Three when he went down heavily making a fast pass of Dany Gappmaier, he was soon back in the pits and in the re-run, Michael Palm Toft roared round Jye Etheridge off bend two to take a massive win in another shared race, maintaining Berwick's narrow lead, which extended to six points after another massive Busk Jakobsen win over Paul Starke in the 4-2.

Etheridge rode a brilliant Heat five to hold out Nicholls for a good couple of laps until the 7-time British Champion took a tight line off bend four and whipped up the inside, at very close quarters to the Bandit as both reared and looking briefly in bother, both expertly controlling the situation ending with Etheridge shaking Nicholls' hand down the back straight as it was obviously just one of those racing incidents, but the 5-1 took Peterborough to within two of Berwick, soon to be extended to six points again courtesy of Summers and Doolan over Emil Grondal.

Palm Toft was gearing up for a pass on bend three of Heat Seven but spun out of control, and flung himself off the bike in a nasty looking fall, catching his leg up the back of Howe's rear wheel, to be excluded, and in the three-man re-run, Pijper led solidly throughout, but Howe, in third, wasn't having any of it as he took the rare outside line to pass Wilson Dean at speed on the third lap to form a home maximum and take the score to 26-16.

Summers led Heat Eight from the off and was soon joined by Busk Jakobsen who whipped round Lambert to take a third 5-1 off the belt, taking the score to 31-17, while the Panthers brought in Nicholls as a tactical substitute for Grondal in Heat Nine, but as the Panthers shot off for a 1-5, Etheridge got into bother on bend two and balked the progress of Gappmaier behind narrowing the score back to a Bandits 10-point lead.

Heat 11 saw Pijper hit the fast wide line to pass Nicholls off bend two on the first lap only for Nicholls to do the same back on the same bend a lap later as Howe wound on the power to take a fast exit from bend two on the third lap to pass Lambert at speed, almost too fast as he had to correct a virtual fall on the third bend in the shared 3-3, but a Gappmaier win over Busk Jakobsen in Heat 12 sealed the win on the night for Berwick with the score 45-27 and only three races to go.

Nicholls took Heats 13 and 15 to complete a six-ride paid maximum, wrecking Busk Jakobsen's maximum in the last race, but what a match to end the league campaign at home for Berwick who now sit third in the SGB Championship.

Team manager Scott Courtney said: "We really was to get something out of this season as last night at Scunthorpe and again tonight over the league leaders has proven. We want the play-offs and the guys are going to fight all the way because we want it bad!

"But what a match it was with some excellent racing for all the guys taking part tonight, helped by a great number one show from Scott Nicholls who was a real hit."

Individual Riders' Score Chart:

Berwick "KLS" Bandits (Powered by Mike Hope of Wooler) 55

Kevin Doolan (c) 2,2*,3,0,1* = 8+2
Aaron Summers 1*,3,3,2* = 9+2
Dany Gappmaier 1*,0,0,3 = 4+1
Jye Etheridge 2,1,1,3 = 7
David Howe 1,2*,1*,2 = 6+2
Theo Pijper (r) 2*,3,2,2* = 9+2
Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen (r) 3,3,2*,2*,2 = 12+2

Peterborough "T.Balfe Construction" Panthers 35

Scott Nicholls 3,2*,3,3,3,3 = 17+1
Simon Lambert (c) 0,3,1,R = 4
Bradley Wilson Dean Fx,1,R,N = 1
Michael Palm Toft 3,Fx,1,R = 4
Paul Starke (guest) 2,R,2*,1,0 = 5+1
Emil Grondal (r) 1,1,Ts,0,1 = 3
Tom Bacon (r) R,R,R,1,N = 1

In the second half the Berwick "KLS" Academy needed to beat the Peterborough Thundercats in the Northern Junior League to clinch a second consecutive league title and comfortably they did just that 25-11 to seal a famous victory.

"KLS" Academy 25

Leon Flint 3,3,3 = 9
Blair Smith 1,0,R = 1
Sam Mcgurk 2*,2*,2* = 6+3
Luke Harrison 3,3,3 = 9

Peterborough "Thundercats" 11

Dan Gilkes Fx, 2,2 = 4
Tom Spencer 2,1*,1* = 4+2
Jack Bell 1,1,1 = 3
Max Perry 0,N2,0 = 0