Fen Tigers land dramatic title win

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 54 Dudley Heathens 39

Mildenhall win 91-90 on aggregate

A terrific turnaround by the Mildenhall Fen Tigers saw them clinch this year’s National League title in dramatic fashion and erase the painful memories of last year’s play-off final heartbreak.

Like last season the title was once again settled by a last heat decider, but unlike 12 months ago, where the Fen Tigers were defeated by a single point by the Scunthorpe Saints, it was their turn to celebrate after coming out on top by the narrowest of margins.

The early stages of the meeting, held at the Norfolk Arena, King’s Lynn, favoured the visitors with the two sides sharing the spoils in the opening three heats.

By heat six however Mildenhall had reduced the Heathens’ 14 point advantage down to eight thanks to a 5-1 from Stefan Nielsen and Josh Bates, and a 4-2 led home by guest Jason Garrity and returning captain Lewis Blackbird.

Although the Heathens extended their advantage with a 4-2 of their own in heat seven, they were powerless to stop the Fen Tigers slamming home three 5-1s on the bounce to swing the tie in their favour.

Measures were taken by Heathens boss Will Pottinger to stop the rot with Adam Roynon sent out in the double scoring black-and-white helmet in heat 11.

It looked to be a case of damage limitation as Nielsen kept the Heathens number one at bay. However with just a lap to go Nielsen suffered a snapped chain, allowing the Heathens to claim a fortuitous 8-1 and hand the overall initiative back to them.

But as has been the case all season the Fen Tigers showed great determination and spirit to peg back the Heathens and take an aggregate lead of one point into the finale.

As both Joe Jacobs and Nielsen missed the gate it looked as though it was going to be another case of suffering a second successive play-off final defeat.

However, the Mildenhall pair fought on and a stunning move around the outside of the field by Nielsen saw him pass Morris and challenge Roynon for the lead.

No sooner had he tried to pass Roynon the Brandon-based rider found himself on the deck after the Heathens number one careered into him down the back straight, a move which resulted in his exclusion.

With the Tigers just requiring to complete the four laps of the re-run, Jacobs and Nielsen opted to sit in behind Morris and let him have his own way up front.

As the chequered flag waved the Tigers pair had done enough, filling both the minor places to claim the all important three points to send the National League title back to West Row.