Scunthorpe Scorpions enjoy speedway triumph against Plymouth Devils
The Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions saw of their old adversaries from their Conference League days, Plymouth Devils, 54-39 at the Eddie Wright Raceway yesterday (Sunday September 2) as they edge closer to the top two place they desire going into the league title play-offs.
Despite being without Nick Morris, who was unable to get his bikes back from Poland in time, and operating rider replacement for David Howe they eased to victory as one of their main rivals for a top two place, Workington, slipped up at Leicester.
The writing was on the wall as early as heat five after the Devils number one, Ben Barker, on whom they so rely had only recorded three points from his first two rides. Ashley Birks and Thomas Jørgensen, newly paired together in the Scorpions’ middle order, claimed a 5-1 over the British international to follow on from the maximum they recorded in heat 3 and the two they acheived in Friday’s momentous win at Edinburgh.
It gave the Scorpions a 19-11 lead and but for a last-bend engine failure for Gary Irving the score would have been 21-9. Another heat advantage for new number one, Josh Auty, and Irving in heat 6 meant Cory Gathercole was given a tactical ride by the Devils’ Team Manager, Lee Trigger, in heat 7 but whilst the Scorpions’ guest rider, Robin Aspegren, wasn’t quite able to catch the Australian in a fine race to the line he was joined by Michael Palm Toft in the minor placings to prevent Plymouth from clawing too much of the Scorpions’ advantage back.
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While the Devils continued to battle they filled eleven last places and failed to produce another heat advantage.
Josh Auty claimed his third straight heat win in Heat 10 and was joined by Ashley Birks for the Scorpions third 5-1.
Three consecutive drawn heats kept the scores eleven apart before Michael Palm Toft partnered Birks and Auty to 4-2 heat advantages in the final two races. Toft, who won both races from the back, finished top scorer with thirteen points plus two bonus points whilst Thomas Jørgensen only dropped one point to an opponent and Auty and Birks were both paid for a dozen points.
There was a valuable contribution from Berwick’s Robin Aspegren who stepped in for Nick Morris but Gary Irving’s luck with engines continued to bad. He stoppage in heat 2 was his fifth blown engine in as many weeks and understandably is finding it a financial strain at the moment.
After the meeting Team Manager Richard Hollingsworth said: “That was another impressive performance where we kept last places to a minimum; much like Friday at Edinburgh. The team are clicking into gear and we won well twice this weekend without Nick Morris. In my book that is quite an achievement because we all know what Nick is capable of. Hopefully next weekend we can defeat Rye House and mathematically make the playoffs. We’ve got ten days to find a replacement for David Howe but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. Rider replacement has served us well this weekend and it is a lot easier having it at number two.
“Thomas Jørgensen seems to love heat 1 and Josh Auty has to take heat 8. Then we’ve got Nick, Ash, Michael and Gary to take rides so it is going to have to be an exceptional rider who can outscore what they can achieve at the moment.
“Everyone is in such good form at the moment. It is a joy to see. Ashley and Thomas and obvious riding well together in the middle of the team whilst those two heat wins by Michael at the end of the meeting were exceptional. For a reserve to pass Ben Barker in heat 15 was something special and 27 points over the weekend is no mean feat either. I’m just a bit worried about Gary. He has been scoring so well since he joined us. He was paid for eight points on Friday and would have won heat 2 against today. The trouble is engines keep blowing up.
"Of course he had to switch bikes after heat 2 and that engine didn’t work as well. He’s been enjoying his speedway but the engines have been costing him a fortune. I believe the STING fund has helped him but it would be great if there was sponsor who could perhaps help him a little too. He’s a great lad and he needs a little boost to keep things going into the play-offs”.
Following the Scorpions’ meeting the National League Saints side recorded a 50-43 victory against the Stoke Potters, while both teams are in action together once more on Friday night (7th September).
With admission reduced to just £10 for all adults and all kids free of charge a bumper crowd is expected as both sides face their counterparts from Rye House. However, fans are asked to note that the start time has been moved forward half an hour to 7pm to accommodate both meetings.
Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions 54: Josh Auty 12 (6 rides), Thomas Jørgensen 13+1 (5), Ashley Birks 9+3 (5), Robin Aspegren 6+2 (4), Michael Palm Toft 13+2 (6), Gary Irving 1 (4).
Plymouth Devils 39: Ben Barker 11 (5 rides), Todd Kurtz 2+2 (4), Cory Gathercole 10 (4 rides including a six point tactical ride), Ben Reade 0 (3), Ryan Fisher 8 (5), Jake Anderson 5+1 (5), James Holder 3+1 (4)
SCUNTHORPE SAINTS 50 STOKE POTTERS 43 (NATIONAL LEAGUE)
Tommy Fenwick enjoyed the best meeting of his fledgling speedway career, as the Jotun Paints Scunthorpe Saints defeated Stoke Potters 50-43 at the Eddie Wright Raceway yesterday evening (Sunday).
Fenwick is relatively inexperienced at speedway, having switched from motocross under a year ago. He’s been given something of a baptism of fire in 2012, having been placed in the team proper due to the Saints having four first-year riders and not all of them able to line up together at reserve.
The ‘Falkirk Flyer’ was paid for double figures for the first time in his Saints’ career, and also featured in his first Heat 15, after being unbeaten in his opening three outings.
It was another great day for the Saints’ lower order riders, with 15-year-old Max Clegg scoring paid 8 from the No 4 berth, and 17-year-old Oliver Greenwood picking up paid 11 from reserve.
With Byron Bekker proving a fine guest (9 points) and skipper Gary Irving (paid 11) also piling up the points, the Saints had too much all-round strength for the Potters.
The Saints took the lead with a 5-1 in Heat 1, after Stoke No 1 Ashley Birks fell in pursuit of Bekker. Greenwood and Danny Phillips filled the minor placings behind Liam Carr in Heat 2.
Tom Young suffered an engine failure while leading Heat 3 and that allowed the Potters to move back level.
Fenwick emerged in front after the first turn of Heat 6, and withstood major pressure from former Scunthorpe rider James Cockle to take a fine win. Bekker appeared to snatch second place on the line, but the verdict went to Cockle.
Fenwick held off Carr in Heat 8, before Carr’s bike failed, with Oliver Greenwood (already handily placed behind Carr) coming through to join Fenwick for a 5-1.
Cockle was first away in Heat 9, but both Young and Clegg passed him as the Saints scored their second successive maximum to stretch their lead to 33-21.
Stoke narrowed the gap to five points with two heat advantages including a 7-2 in Heat 11, as tactical ride Birks held off Irving.
Greenwood showed maturity beyond his tender years in pressuring Tony Atkin (a rider who is 29 years his senior!) into a mistake to join Young for a 5-1 in Heat 12.
An all-action Heat 13 saw Birks and Irving (team-mates in the Scorpions’ Premier League team) going hell for leather in a battle for second place. Birks ended up with a puncture, as Bekker and Irving took a 5-1 to clinch victory for the Saints.
A second place for Clegg in Heat 14 saw the Saints only need to provide a finisher in Heat 15 to secure the third league point. Young, perhaps the unluckiest man on display, lost second on the final bend with a fall caused by a puncture, but Fenwick followed home Birks and Atkin to ensure maximum points from the meeting for the Saints.
The Saints are now just two points behind third-placed Isle Of Wight and one point behind fourth-placed Stoke in the National League table, and still have a chance to qualify for the National League play-offs.
Jotun Paints Scunthorpe Saints 50: Byron Bekker 9 (4), Tommy Fenwick 9+1 (5), Tom Young 6 (4), Max Clegg 7+1 (4), Gary Irving 10+1 (4), Danny Phillips 1+1 (4), Oliver Greenwood 8+3 (5).
Stoke Potters 43: Ashley Birks 13 (5) (including 6-point tactical ride), Richard Andrews 2 (3), Tony Atkin 10+2 (5), Ben Reade 8+1 (4), James Cockle 4 (4), Liam Rumsey 0 (3), Liam Carr 6 (5).