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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Workington Comets' Wright and Priest miss Stoke return after crashes

Workington Comets will be without Charles Wright and Luke Priest tonight when they complete a hectic holiday programme of three matches in as many days.

Luke Priest photo
Luke Priest

Wright suffered concussion in an early fall at Stoke on Saturday night and missed last night’s trip to Newcastle, while Luke Priest also crashed at Loomer Road against the Potters and an accumulation of bumps, bruises and knocks have forced him to sit out Sunday and Monday as well.

They return to Derwent Park tonight to take on the Potters in the return league match with a rider replacement facility for Wright and Glasgow’s Mitchell Davey deputising for Priest.

The Comets picked-up a bonus point at Stoke on Saturday night, losing 48-42 in what was the first Premier League match of the season and last night kept their Premier Trophy qualification hopes alive with a 47-43 win at bottom side Newcastle Diamonds.

Benji Compton took over at reserve for Priest but managed only one point as the Comets ground-out their first away success in the Trophy.

They were 19-11 ahead after just five heats with four of them finishing 4-2 in the Comets’ favour but by heat eight the Diamonds were all square.

Two heat maximums helped pull them round with former Comets rider Craig Branney, now on loan to the Diamonds, involved in both.

First he followed home Steve Boxall to beat the Compton brothers and then two races later he won ahead of Jason King with Richard Lawson and brother John Branney in behind.

Craig, re-building his career after breaking a leg a year gone February and missing virtually the whole of last season, was the top-scoring rider on the night with 13 points and three bonus points.

He was the only Newcastle rider in double figures – a contrast to the Workington side where all three heat leaders got ten or more. Workington had 11 race winners on the night.

Team manager Ian Thomas said: “There was no doubt that we had to win this one and get the extra point away from home. If we had drawn or lost we were dead in the water as far as the Premier Trophy was concerned.

“I think Edinburgh are virtually through but the battle or the second qualifying place still seems pretty open. If you take Sheffield and Newcastle as being out of contention then it’s between ourselves, Berwick, Redcar and Glasgow as to who goes through with the Monarchs.

“It’s all very complex but we can only make sure we get three points against Sheffield on Saturday to make sure we finish our section with 21 points and set the others a target.”

Adrian Rymel, who had helped the Czech Republic to victory in Latvia on Saturday in a qualifying round of the World Team Cup made his frantic dash from Poland to Newcastle – with 90 minutes to spare.

“We had a driver sitting at Stanstead airport waiting to get him off his flight and bring him up to Newcastle. Although he was ten minutes late everything went like clockwork after that and he was the second of our riders to arrive at Brough Park.”

Completing a good weekend he scored 10 points, after a similar total for the Czechs in Latvia. Thomas said: “He was telling me that only one rider beat Greg Hancock of the USA on the night – our former captain Kauko Nieminen who was skippering Finland.”

After the bonus point gained at Stoke, Thomas said: “In the end we were lucky to get through the meeting being able to put out two riders in each race. It was a bit like watching the walking wounded in our pits.

“Kevin Doolan had taken a heavy fall when he went over the handlebars in his first race so he did really well to come back and earn 14 points.

“I think over the meeting we had to work really hard to earn a bonus point. It could have been even better with a fully fit team but 48-42 was enough to get us the bonus.”

Stoke were also in the wars with Phil Morris having to withdraw from the meeting early-on as he was one of three fallers in the first four races.

It was fairly close all the way through and although the Comets never actually got in front they were all square at 39-39 when Doolan and Compton put together a 5-1 in heat thirteen.

Unfortunately from Workington’s point of view the Potters grabbed two heat maximums to round-off the meeting and the six point winning margin was the most there had been between the two sides all night. The fact that Workington had more individual race winners – eight to seven – was no consolation.

The Potters had to use rider replacement at number three for Glen Phillips who was suspended by the Speedway Control Bureau. Phillips rode against Somerset and Scunthorpe without producing a medical certificate, so his points from both matches have been removed.

Phillips’ penalties mean that Stoke’s defeat at Somerset is now 48-35 rather than 48-42 and the score from the victory over Scunthorpe is now 46-41 instead of 54-41.

Newcastle: Steve Boxall 8; rider replacement for Kenni Larsen; Trent Leverington 6; Derek Sneddon 7; Jason King 8; Jamie Courtney 1; Craig Branney 13.

Workington: Kevin Doolan 12; John Branney 5; Adrian Rymel 10; rider replacement for Charles Wright; Andre Compton 11; Benji Compton 1; Richard Lawson 8.

Stoke: Lee Complin 7; Tom P. Madsen 11; rider replacement for Glen Phillips; Jason Bunyan 15; Phil Morris 0; Jesper Kristiansen 9; Lee Smart 6.

Workington: Kevin Doolan 14; John Branney 6; rider replacement for Adrian Rymel; Charles Wright 0; Andre Compton 12; Luke Priest 2; Richard Lawson 8.

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