Disastrous night put Tigers on the backfoot

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

PLAY-OFF FINAL

FIRST LEG

Scunthorpe Saints 62

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 33

by Derek Bish at the

Eddie Wright Raceway

SCUNTHORPE’S Saints condemned the Mildenhall Fen Tigers to a hellish Friday night, as half of the West Row outfit’s double dreams appeared to have been obliterated in ruthless fashion.

Mildenhall’s star man Cameron Heeps was the only rider who left North Lincolnshire with any credit by top scoring with 15 points.

He was the only Tiger to win a heat – three of them – while the rest of the side were only able to muster three second-places between them as Scunthorpe slammed home eight one-two finishes from the 15 heats to give them a 29-point advantage ahead of Sunday’s second leg.

“It was our worst display of the season,” said co-promoter Michael Lee, something skipper Jack Hargreaves completely agreed with.

“We didn’t know which way to go,” the Tigers’ captain added. “Luckily, Cam got a good set up from the word go and he could keep pushing, but the rest of us were always trying to chase.

“I’ve never scored two points in my life and I feel so ashamed.”

Mildenhall used their first double-scoring tactical ride — only allowed when a side is trailing by more than 10 points — in just heat five after three consecutive 5-1 scores knocked the stuffing out of them.

Heeps won in the black-and-white helmet to earn his side six points, but it proved to only be brief respite as the Saints quickly reasserted their dominance.

The quickest way around the Eddie Wright Raceway was around the outside, but Mildenhall – with the exception of 15-year-old Heeps – failed to grasp this and their insistence on keeping a tight inside line left them easy to pick off by a strong Scunthorpe side boasting four Premier League riders.

Dan Halsey and Aaron Baseby both fell in heat two – although the latter remounted to earn a point for third – while Joe Jacobs endured mechanical gremlins from the moment he left the gate in his opening ride.

It was not until heat seven that a Mildenhall rider other than Heeps earned themselves a position in the top two.

On that occasion, Lewis Blackbird – who was the best of the rest for the visitors with eight points – exchanged second place with home captain Adam Wrathall four times before finally coming out on top by pipping the Scunthorpe man on the line.

Dan Halsey followed this up with a second place of his own in heat eight as Mildenhall finally appeared to be getting to grips with the Saints, but back-to-back maximums quickly dampened their spirits, with Wrathall gaining revenge on Blackbird after another ding-dong battle for second.

A win for Heeps in heat 11 and a double-scoring second place for Blackbird in heat 14 were all the Tigers had left to cheer and even the young Aussie faltered in the final heat as twins Steve and Richie Worrall beat the teenager and Blackbird to open up a seemingly-unassailable 29-point lead at the end of the first leg.