Newcastle Diamonds 46 Workington Comets 44: Luck was against a depleted Workington Comets side which battled valiantly in an incident-packed 46-44 loss in the season opener at Newcastle.

Mason Campton suffered heartbreak on his return to British speedway as he was forced to withdraw with a suspected broken collarbone sustained in his first ride.

The visitors were already using rider replacement for Rasmus Jensen, while Theo Pijper guested for Claus Vissing.

Comets manager Tony Jackson said the result felt like a win under the circumstances.

He said: “When you get a meeting like that where you push a team as strongly-tipped as Newcastle despite all the luck going against you, you have to be happy.

“It was a fantastic performance all around and there were plenty of good things to give us optimism.”

He added that a number of his riders had been dealing with knocks throughout the meeting and that he hoped Campton’s injury was not too serious.

It was the hosts who led from the start, Tero Aarnio and Robert Lambert springing out of the gates ahead of Ricky Wells and Matt Williamson. The Diamonds’ No1 passed his teammate on the second lap to take the win in a home 5-1.

There was controversy in heat two as the Diamonds secured a 4-2 win after Comets pair Adam Roynon and Williamson gated. Lewis Rose soon swept to the front before Danny Phillips passed Williamson, who fell and remounted, to finish third.

Another impressive Comets gate saw Mason Campton and Kenneth Hansen storm out front in heat three. The visitors should have seen out the win but Campton fell on the third bend under no pressure, leaving Hansen to hold on for a 3-3. After being examined my medics, the Australian was ruled out for the rest of the meeting.

It was much the same story in heat four as Williamson burst to the front, closely followed by Pijper. Steve Worrall snuck past the Comets guest on the second bend before Williamson fell while leading, again on the third bend. A home 4-2 saw Newcastle lead 16-8 after a strong start.

Another electric gate from Comets saw them finally gain a heat advantage in heat five, Wells calmly controlling the race from the front while Ludvig Lindgren edged past Roynon on the opening lap and Matej Kus retired.

The impressive Lambert seemed to be taking to his new home track as he won again in heat six, Pijper, Aarnio and Williamson following in a Newcastle 4-2.

Hansen romped to a dominant win after he and Williamson shot out of the gates, but the youngster couldn’t hold off Worrall and Rose as the hosts battled back for a 3-3.

Phillips collided with Roynon and Rose in heat eight while the visitors were on for a 5-1 and was duly excluded from the re-run. Tero Aarnio then withdrew from the meeting as a result of a recurring knee injury.

The re-run was stopped due to a tape malfunction, with Roynon now on his spare bike after the collision. Comets triumphed as the heat was finally completed, Hansen roaring around while Roynon finished behind Rose in a vital 4-2.

The Comets revival continued as they clawed back another two points, guest Pijper fending off Kus while Roynon made up the points in an away 4-2.

The outstanding Hansen spoiled Lambert’s hopes of a perfect debut with a terrific ride in heat ten, while Williamson got some reward for his efforts at last with a point ahead of Phillips.

Youngster Daniel Bewley got the nod in heat 11 and was part of another heat advantage as Comets’ comeback continued with a 4-2, Wells getting the better of Phillips.

Yet another incident blighted heat 12 as Kus and Hansen collided and the Diamond was excluded from the re-run. A thrilling 5-1 saw Hansen ease around Brough Park in front while Roynon traded places with Rose before eventually nicking second on the line, putting Comets in front for the first time.

The visitors retained their lead in heat 13, Wells expertly negotiating the track ahead of Lambert while Worrall eventually beat Pijper after a ding dong battle.

Newcastle got back on track with a 5-1 of their own in heat 14, Lindgren and Rose romping home ahead of Williamson and Roynon, who retired on the final lap, to setup a dramatic last heat decider.

It was the hosts who nicked the win after a closely-fought meeting, Wells making the gate but Lambert riding hard to pass him and take the win. Hansen missed the start and couldn’t get near Worrall, who trailed Wells to secure a 4-2 and leave Comets frustrated.

Newcastle 46: Robert Lambert 13, Lewis Rose 10+2, Steve Worrall 7+1, Ludvig Lindgren 7, Danny Phillips 4, Matej Kus 3+1, Tero Aarnio 2+1

Workington Comets 44: Kenneth Hansen 15, Ricky Wells 12, Theo Pijper 7, Adam Roynon 7, Matt Williamson 2, Daniel Bewley (no.8) 1, Mason Campton 0, Rasmus Jensen r/r.