Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Eastbourne Eagles 56 v 36 Coventry Storm

Sunday 19th July 2015
National League Speedway
Arlington Stadium, Hailsham
Admission: £12.00
Programme: £2.00
Match Rating: 3

Having returned from my short break in Suffolk late on Saturday evening, I was able to take in the Eagles' first home meeting in four weeks, with a meeting that, on paper, looked like it would be a close event. The reality proved somewhat different, however, continuing the amazing home form of the Eastbourne Eagles this season.

Eastbourne Eagles came into this meeting in fourth place in the table, drawing yesterday's meeting at basement boys Stoke, whilst since their last home meeting they have lost at Rye House and drew at Mildenhall in the National League Trophy, and won the first leg of the National League KO Cup semi final first leg at Kent. Coventry came into this meeting a place below Eastbourne, have raced once more, but all but one of their eight races have been away from home, although they had lost in their previous three meetings. It would be a quite different Eastbourne line-up today to the one I had been used to in previous meetings - captain David Mason, Richie Andrews and Kelsey Dugard all injured, with two replacement riders in their place, with the Eagles using rider replacement to plug the third gap.

On a fairly warm summer afternoon, the start was delayed by 15 minutes, as the Coventry supporters' coach was delayed en route. They still did not arrive until around the sixth heat - not that they had missed much from their team, as the Eagles dominated the opening stages on the meeting, scoring maximum 5-1 wins in the opening two heats. That set the tone for a dominant afternoon for the Eagles, although they were the only two heats where they scored the 5-1 maximum and the third heat was the only one that was tied. Already ten points behind after four heats, Coventry went for their tactical ride, but their designated rider could only finish second, and so Eastbourne's lead was only reduced by two. The heats finished Eastbourne, Coventry, Eastbourne from the sixth to the final heats, apart from just heats seven and eleven, which finished Coventry, Eastbourne, Coventry. And so the Eagles claimed a win by 20 points, to rise a place in the table to third. Standout performers were Eastbourne's Bradley Wilson-Dean and Ben Hopwood - one of the riders recently signed - scoring maximum 15 point hauls.

Unfortunately, this was not a meeting that will live long in the memory, as the result never looked in doubt after Eastbourne opened up a 10 - 2 lead after heat two, and then coasted to a comfortable victory, with a minimum of incident or drama throughout. Indeed, not one heat was halted because of an incident.

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