Craig Cook's absence costs Workington Comets dear as they finish bottom of their Championship Pairs group

Costly absence: Talisman Craig Cook
Costly absence: Talisman Craig Cook

The absence of talisman Craig Cook cost Workington Comets dearly as they finished bottom of their group in the Championship Pairs at Sheffield yesterday.

Comets were at an immediate disadvantage after Cook was forced to pull out of the meeting due to a toe injury sustained in the previous night’s meeting against Newcastle, with Mason Campton stepping in to partner Ty Proctor.

Losing their No.1 was a huge blow but, with Proctor being a former Tiger and Campton having had some impressive meetings at Owlerton, there was some reason to be optimistic that they could compete.

The duo got a poor start as Ipswich’s Rory Schlein and Danny King, who were among the pre-meeting favourites, inflicted a 7-2 from the gate in heat three to leave the pair with a mountain to climb already.

Their chances of progressing looked very slim after Scunthorpe hit another 7-2 against them in heat nine, with Proctor unable to close the gap to Lewis Kerr and Josh Auty as they team-rode round.

At the halfway point, Glasgow were dominating Group A with 13 points, with Ipswich close behind on 10 but hit by the withdrawal of Schlein. Peterborough and Scunthorpe were both on nine, while Workington were effectively out with four.

Group B was closer, with Edinburgh and Redcar both on 11 points, the hosts on 10, Newcastle on nine and Berwick struggling with four.

The Comets finally seemed to get to grips with the track for their third ride in heat 13, with Campton just missing out from the first bend to Glasgow’s Richard Lawson and Proctor trading places with Aaron Summers but eventually finishing at the back in a Tigers 6-3.

Although Proctor gated well in Comets’ fourth and final ride, he was easily reeled in by Peterborough’s Ulrich Ostergaard and Chris Harris to condemn the west Cumbrians to a third 7-2 against them.

Comets team manager Tony Jackson admitted the meeting, which was eventually won by hosts Sheffield, was nigh on impossible for them once they knew Cook would be unavailable.

He said: “It’s a tough meeting anyway and every race is like heat 15.

“The first two races we had unfavoured gates and once we got into gates one and three there was no more advantage.”

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