Fen Tigers work hard to weather the Storm
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 48 Coventry Storm 41
MILDENHALL Fen Tigers had to work hard to weather the Coventry Storm coming from behind to begin the defence of their National League title with a victory at West Row on Sunday.
Afterwards skipper and top scorer Halsey said, “When you look at the points the boys got you can see everyone did their bit today. The track was a bit grippy at first but once we got used to the conditions we were fine. To be honest I didn’t realise it was as tight as that early on, but it turned out fine in the end. Coventry are a good team so to get all three points is great.”
Those thoughts were echoed by co-promoter and team manager for the day, Chris Louis. “We had to fight hard for that, win and made things difficult in the early stages, but the boys worked hard and got there in the end, which is the main thing.”
They got off to the worst possible start with Stefan Nielsen crashing out after a dropping a chain while leading the opening race. With race partner Aaron Baseby harshly excluded, despite remounting in the re-run, the Storm’s first ever league race saw guest Ben Morley and Richard Franklin claim an unlikely 5-0 success.
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Reserves Liam Rumsey and Nathan Stoneman hit straight back with a 5-1 for the Fen Tigers, but with Coventry superbly led by new British Under-21 champion Robert Branford, with able support from skipper James Sarjeant, the home side had to dig deep, finally going ahead for the first time in Heat 9, at the third time of asking, after battered and bruised youngster Josh Bates and the again excellent veteran Jon Armstong combined for their second maximum of the afternoon.
After that Mildenhall slowly but surely got themselves further in front in an exciting team effort that saw every rider claim a race win or paid win, with the seven point victory margin enough to claim all three points on offer, with Nielsen and Danny Halsey claiming excellent wins over the seemingly unstoppable Branford.
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Once again Nielsen showed why he has earned the nickname “Rubberman” after yet again walking away from an horrific looking spill, this time at the end of the final race after a coming together with Branford, as they crossed the finishing line.
Mildenhall now travel to face Dudley on Tuesday night in the second leg of the National Shield, trailing by four points after the first leg. Louis said, “The main thing is that we put on a good show and get plenty of decent laps in. I’ve already said we have a mountain to climb especially with Josh missing. We didn’t win the Shield last year either, but remember what we did win and what Dudley didn’t! I would happily settle for the same again this year.”
Mildenhall Fen Tigers: 48
1 Stefan Nielsen - X, 2, 3, 3, 1 = 9
2 Aaron Baseby - X, 1’, 3, 1 = 5+1
3 Josh Bates - 2, 2’, 3, 2 = 9+1
4 Jon Armstrong - 1’, 3, 2’, 2 = 8+2
5 Daniel Halsey (c) - 1, 2, 3, 1, 3 = 10
6 Liam Rumsey - 3, 0, 1, X = 4
7 Nathan Stoneman - 2’, 0, X, 1’ = 3+2
Coventry Storm: 41
1 Ben Morley (g) - 3, 1, 2, 0 = 6
2 Richard Franklin - 2’, 0, 1’ = 3+2
3 Robert Branford - 3, 3, 2, 3, 2 = 13
4 Brendan Johnson - 0, 1, 0, 3 = 4
5 James Sarjeant (c) - 3, 3, 1, 2, 0 = 9
6 Tommy Fenwick - 1, 0, 0 = 1
7 Martin Knuckey - X, 2’, 2, 0, 1 = 5+1