Workington Comets delivered a thrilling 46-44 win over Newcastle thanks to another last-heat decider in their final home meeting of 2017.
They did so in the end without captain Craig Cook who, on the night when his place in next year’s Grand Prix series was confirmed by Patryk Dudek’s win in Torun, was forced to withdraw from the meeting with a toe injury after three rides.
Newcastle’s Robert Lambert had flattered to deceive on previous visits to Derwent Park but he looked well up for it on Saturday as he romped to a first heat win, with Ashley Morris clear of Cook in second.
Comets needed an immediate response and they got one as James Sarjeant won heat two with Tom Woolley third for a 4-2, before the home side completed the quick turnaround with a 5-1 through Matt Williamson and Mason Campton.
Ty Proctor out-gated Steve Worrall and looked comfortable in heat four but Woolley trailed Alfie Bowtell to share the points.
The Diamonds gated on a 5-1 in heat five but Williamson pulled off a stellar pass on Morris and Campton followed him through a lap later behind Lambert in a 3-3.
Cook made up for his first ride by beating Worrall to the first bend and cruising to victory in heat six but Campton couldn’t hold off the Diamond as Comets had to settle for a 4-2.
Proctor notched another stylish win in heat seven while Woolley put up a fight against Ludvig Lindgren but eventually caved in for a draw.
The Newcastle duo hit the front in heat eight but Proctor quickly reeled in Bowtell and was past Morris by the end of the lap, while Sarjeant caught the Diamonds’ No.7 on the run to the line in dramatic fashion to turn a 3-3 into a Comets 4-2.
Campton came close to snatching first from Worrall on the back straight of lap one but the Newcastle man saw him off and rode to a comfortable win in heat nine.
Cook got a wonderful start in heat 10 and never looked back, but the visitors were happy to shut Williamson out and keep him last.
With Proctor and Lambert both unbeaten, something had to give in heat 11 and two false starts made the crowd wait to find out what.
Lambert eventually rode a stunning four laps to win ahead of the Australian, with Sarjeant last as the away side earned a heat advantage.
Sarjeant made a perfect start in the next race and was joined by Campton but the latter drifted to allow Robson into second while Bowtell was a distant last in a vital home 4-2.
First bend bunching saw Cook and Worrall hit the deck in heat 13 and the former was eventually withdrawn from the meeting after limping off the track, with Sarjeant drafted in.
Worrall and Lambert took full advantage with a 5-1 in the re-run as the meeting suddenly looked like slipping away from Comets.
Williamson was under pressure to win heat 14 and he rode magnificently to do so ahead of Lindgren, with Sarjeant third as Bowtell retired to give Comets hope of holding onto their lead.
Comets needed to prevent an away 5-1 to secure the win in a last heat decider, and Proctor and Campton made an electric start to shut out Worrall.
The Diamond’s brilliant pass on the latter had Workington sweating but Proctor rode superbly to keep him at bay while the impressive Lambert was a worthy winner.