Scunthorpe Scorpions secure runners-up spot in Speedway Premier League with home win over Glasgow Tigers
The Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions made certain of second place in the Premier League regular standings with a storming 54-37 win over Glasgow Tigers at the Eddie Wright Raceway last night (Friday Sept 21) – to go into the all-important play-offs with real momentum behind them.
However, it was the Newcastle Diamonds who took spot in the table after a 46-44 win at Plymouth. The Diamonds finish their regular fixtures on 51 points, just one point ahead of the Scorpions.
Scunthorpe have enjoyed their best-ever season at this level, surpassing their previous best of fifth in 1983, by three places. And while topping the table would have been a very pleasant bonus, the Premier League champions are decided in the forthcoming play-offs.
As the second placed team, Scunthorpe will avoid Newcastle in two mini-groups of three teams that form the first phase of the play-offs, and also have some say in their play-off opponents.
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With track staff having done a superb job to get the track back into shape after a very wet day, the Scorpions got off to an uncertain start as Glasgow took the lead with a 5-1 in Heat 1.
Michael Palm Toft won Heat 2, while Gary Irving losing third place with an engine failure. Jason Bunyan proved to be a superb guest for the Scorpions, and joined Ashley Birks for a 5-1 that pulled the Scorpions level in Heat 3.
A run of shared heats followed, with the Scorpions losing a chance of a 4-2 in Heat 6 after Josh Auty fell while in third place.
Josh Grajczonek passed Nick Morris late on in Heat 7, to deny the Scorpions a 5-1, as Toft won his second race of the evening. Nevertheless, the 4-2 moved Scorpions in front for the first time during the evening.
Scunthorpe finally broke free of their visitors with successive 5-1 in Heats 9 & 10, with Bunyan involved in both; with Birks in the former and Auty in the latter.
Heat 11 saw Sam Masters as a tactical ride for Glasgow and required four starts. Glasgow’s Mason Campton fell and was excluded (with Scorpions on a 5-1), then Toft fell twice – firstly, in first bend bunching and then later in the race. It left only two riders, with Morris heading Masters in an unusual 3-4 heat scoreline.
Morris won the meeting for Scorpions with victory in Heat 13, and then Birks & Toft secured the third league point with a 5-1 in Heat 14. Morris & Birks added the icing to the top of the cake with another 5-1 in the final race.
Scunthorpe completed an unbeaten home record at this level for only the second time in their history (the other time being 1983). The Scorpions have only dropped two home league points all season (48-42 wins against Newcastle and Berwick).
The Scorpions head into the play-offs as the form team in the Premier League, having scored 22 points out of 22 in their final seven Premier League fixtures.
Richard Hollingsworth - the Scorpions’ team manager – said: “We’re delighted to have finished second in the regular Premier League standings. Newcastle were favourites to top the table heading into tonight, because they had it in their own hands, whereas we needed them to slip up at Plymouth.
“We’ve finished just a single point behind Newcastle in the table. We’ve won all 12 home Premier League meetings, and only dropped two points at home, which is superb. And we’ve scored as many away points (16) as any other club in the league.
“Our first home meeting in the play-offs will take place either next Friday (September 28th) or Sunday (September 30th). The play-offs will be huge meetings – we’re looking forward to them with a positive attitude.”
Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions 54: Josh Auty 7 (5), David Howe R/R, Jason Bunyan 12+1 (5), Ashley Birks 10+4 (5), Nick Morris 15 (6), Michael Palm Toft 10+3 (6), Gary Irving 0 (3).
Glasgow Tigers 37: Sam Masters 13 (6) (incl. 4-point tactical ride), Mason Campton 5+2 (5), Josh Grajczonek 11 (6), Henning Bager 2 (5), James Grieves R/R, James McBain 2+2 (3), Charles Wright 4+1 (5).