Mildenhall Fen Tigers 60 Newport Hornets 36
THE Mildenhall Fen Tigers cruised into the National League play-offs by swatting aside the Newport Hornets to maintain their 100 per cent record at West Row.
Such was the gulf in class that the combined score of eight produced by four of the visitors’ seven riders was a mere single point better off than the Tigers’ lowest scorer of the meeting, Joe Jacobs (7+2).
Due to heavy rain on Sunday afternoon, the start was delayed by an hour, but once the dark clouds cleared to be replaced by blue sky, Mildenhall could clearly see their path into the end-of-season play-offs.
As was the case in the previous Sunday’s emphatic Knockout Cup semi-final first leg victory over the Isle of Wight, Mildenhall trailed 5-1 after the first heat, but that deficit was quickly turned around.
Aaron Baseby clearly did not enjoy getting a face full of shale while at the back in the opening race, so stormed to the front to take the second heat, with Dan Halsey’s second place levelling up the score at 6-6.
Lewis Blackbird and Joe Jacobs added another 5-1 in the very next heat, and the run of Mildenhall maximums was stretched to three, courtesy of skipper Jack Hargreaves and Aaron Baseby in heat four.
The lead reached double figures in just the fifth race as Blackbird burst out of the gate ahead of Todd Kurtz – racing off an enormous average of more than 10 points – and held his position around the outside of the Australian to take a brilliant race win.
Back-to-back maximums followed in races six and seven, this time for Mark Baseby and Blackbird, and Hargreaves and Halsey.
James White-Williams checked the Tigers’ progress slightly by winning for Newport in the double-scoring black and white helmet, but Mildenhall secured their sixth one-two finish as Hargreaves led home Mark Baseby.
Another tactical win – this time for Kurtz – barely dented the home team’s lead and they slammed home three more 5-1 results to settle the tie.
The best came in heat 13 when Hargreaves superbly held off Kurtz and Jay Herne for the win and Mark Baseby put a stunning move round the outside of the Hornets pair as Kurtz slowed and Herne hesitated.
Although Newport gained victory in the final race, courtesy of Herne, there was no stopping the Tigers’ march to the National League play-offs, where they will go in search of the league title, just months after reforming.
Tigers 60: Heeps R/R; M Baseby (1, 3, 2, 2*, 2* = 10+2); Jacobs (2*, 1, 2, 2*, 0 = 7+2); Blackbird (3, 3, 2*, 1*, 3 = 12+2), Hargreaves (3, 3, 3, 2, 3 = 14); Halsey (2*, 2*, 0, 2*, 2 8+3); A Baseby (0, 3, 2*, 1*, 3 = 9+2).
Hornets 36: Kurtz (3, 2, 6^, 0 = 11); White-Williams (2*, 0 6^, 1, 1 = 10+1); Bates (f, 1, 0, 1 = 2); Johnsn (1, f, 1, 1 = 3); Herne (r, 3, 1, 3 = 7); Andrews (1, 1, 0, 0, f = 2); Rumsey (f, 1, f, 0 = 1).