Eagles claw away Tigers’ title hopes

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Mildenhall Fen Tigers 44

Eastbourne Eagles 44

Mildenhall Fen Tigers saw their hopes of retaining the National Trophy end after a 44-44 draw at home to the Eastbourne Eagles on Sunday.

A tricky opening few heats, which saw a number of falls and a rider withdrawn injured from both teams, set the tone for a long afternoon for two evenly-balanced sides.

After Eastbourne’s Richard Andrews crashed on the back straight in the opening heat, the re-run saw Fen Tigers rider Luke Ruddick suffer an awkward fall.

Mildenhall’s number two had his afternoon end early with a leg injury that required a visit to the hospital.

The second heat saw Stefan Farnaby lift again at the start and take a nasty fall which resulted in him being excluded from the re-run.

Further falls for Connor Coles and Eastbourne’s Matt Bates in heat three meant the visitors were 10-6 in front.

The unfortunate Andrews got into trouble again in heat five after clipping the back of Coles’ bike, with the crash seeing the Eagles’ rider break his thumb and become the second casualty of the meeting.

At this point the track began to settle down and some close racing ensued, with the Fen Tigers drawing level in heat nine after an excellent 5-1 victory from Coles and Connor Mountain.

Another 5-1 in the next heat from Mildenhall captain Danny Halsey and Tom Bacon put the home side four points ahead, before successive draws in heats 11, 12 and 13 kept their slender lead intact.

In heat 14 the visitors outgated Coles and Bacon, with the latter unlucky to slide off at the back as Eastbourne took the heat 5-1 to level the score.

The final heat pitted the unbeaten Eagles rider Bradley Wilson-Dean against Mildenhall’s Halsey for the third time in the meeting.

Wilson-Dean secured his fifth victory of the afternoon, while Halsey and Mountain tucked in behind to ensure a shared heat and a 44-44 draw.

However this result put paid to the Fen Tigers’ hopes of retaining the National Trophy this season, with the holders bottom of the table on two points.

Scores: Mildenhall Fen Tigers 44: D Halsey 12; C Mountain 11+1; T Bacon 10+1; J Kingston 6+1; C Coles 4+2; S Farnaby 1+1; L Ruddick 0.

Eastbourne Eagles 44: B Wilson-Dean 15; G Wood 12+1; M Owen 9; K Dugard 3+2; B Hopwood 3+1; M Bates 2+2; R Andrews 0.