NATIONAL LEAGUE SHIELD
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 47 Dudley Heathens 46
JOE Jacobs roared life back into his speedway career as the Mildenhall Fen Tigers got their 2012 season off to a winning start.
The 18-year-old Ipswich-born rider defeated National League star Adam Roynon in the opening heat of the Tigers’ National Shield first leg victory over the Dudley Heathens.
For what is seen as a make-or-break year for Jacobs, he prepared for the season by spending the winter in Australia with team-mate Cameron Heeps and showed plenty of promise with two wins and a second behind Heeps in his five heats.
“I’ve come back feeling way more impressive and awesome on the bike,” said Jacobs. “Hopefully the fans have enjoyed it and seen that I have got better in their opinion as well because it felt good.
“I’ve got to keep the consistency now and not let it slip.
“Beating Adam Roynon in the first heat was a big scalp for me because he has ridden in the Premier League and even the Elite League.
“Hopefully I will keep taking wins, get some Premier League rides and then it is onwards and upwards.”
Jacobs got his 2012 campaign off to the best possible start as he led home from Roynon — who has one of the best starting averages in the National League this season. Heeps took third to give the Tigers a first-leg lead they never relinquished.
Mildenhall’s new teenage reserve pairing of Nathan Stoneman and Josh Bates could not have asked for anymore than clinching a maximum 5-1 on their debut in heat two, with Bates capitalising on Dan Greenwood’s mistake to take second behind Stoneman.
The following seven heats were shared and although it was no classic, there was a fair share of incident to entertain the home crowd.
New captain Lewis Blackbird won two of those races, while team-mates Stefan Nielsen, Heeps and Jacobs also claimed wins, while Tom Perry and Ashley Morris won for Dudley.
Nielsen and Dan Halsey had squeezed out Roynon at the start of heat five before the former went round James White-Williams to claim victory.
Heat six was heading for a comfortable one- two for Heeps and Jacobs when the two misunderstood one another, resulting in the latter clipping the teenage Australian’s back wheel and crashing out.
Jacobs would later claim that Heeps had inadvertently crossed his racing line as the two bid to hold off Morris and Darryl Ritchings.
The pair had more success when teamed together in heat 10, securing a 5-1 in the rerun after Perry had crashed in the initial race.
However, with a 10-point lead, the Tigers suddenly went off the boil as Roynon doubled his winning score with a tactical ride in heat 11 and reserve Ritchings leading home Perry in a heat 12 one-two.
Dan Halsey’s success in the penultimate race guaranteed Mildenhall would take an advantage to Dudley in the second leg on Tuesday, but that lead was cut to one point by Morris and Roynon holding off Mildenhall’s slow-starting pair of Heeps and Jacobs in the final heat.
The National Shield will be handed to one of these two teams at the conclusion of Tuesday’s second leg at Dudley’s Ladbroke Stadium in Wolverhampton (7.30pm).