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Comets 50 Newcastle 43 - match report
Photo by Dave Payne
Sun 19 Jul 2015 by Comets Press Office
The Comets pulled off a sensational fightback at Derwent Park last night to claim a vital Premier League victory over the Newcastle Diamonds.
Bearing in mind the fact that both sides went into this fixture next to each other in the Premier League table this was what is often described in the football world as a 'six-pointer' and a 'must win' match for the Comets.

But, after making a disastrous start that saw the faster-starting Diamonds claim 5-1's in the opening two heats, it soon became clear that a tough night lay ahead for the Comets.

A double-tape exclusion in heat 3 saw both Kenneth Hansen and Newcastle's Lewis Kerr starting from a 15-metre handicap but while Newcastle's Anton Rosen led from the gate the Comets pairing of Rene Bach and Kenneth filled the minor places and stopped the sequence of Diamonds 5-1's!

Ricky Wells led from tape to flag to share the next and then a 'from the back' 5-1 from Rene and Kenneth closed the gap to just four points in heat 5. But, just as the Comets seemed set to get back into the match the Diamonds took a heat advantage in the sixth heat when Ludvig Lindgren led Kyle throughout while Simon Nielsen stole third place from Rusty right on the finish line.

Then, when Rosen and Kerr led the next, it appeared that the Diamonds would go ten points in front but Kerr ran wide on turn four of the third lap and that allowed Ricky through into second place but, nevertheless, the Diamonds eight-point advantage was restored.

A second race win for Christian Henry in heat 8 ahead of Rusty and Matty Wethers maintained the Diamonds eight-point lead, while Newcastle guest Rafal Konopka slid off when last on turn three of the third lap.

Heat 9 saw the Diamonds pairing of Simon Nielsen and Lindgren hit the front with Kenneth snapping at their heels. Meanwhile, at the back, Rene slid off on turn two of the second lap and struggled to get free from under his bike. Meanwhile Kenneth had just passed Lindgren and was bearing down on Nielsen when the stop lights came on with Rene now back on his feet but standing up against the air fence as the riders bore down on him.

Referee Chris Durno excluded Rene and subsequently awarded the race as a 4-2 to Newcastle, which put them ten points in front with just six races remaining.

This gave the Comets the opportunity to give the black and white helmet cover to Kyle Howarth and he responded magnificently to win heat 10, while followed home by Rusty Harrison as they defeated the hitherto unbeaten Anton Rosen and an 'out of sorts' Lewis Kerr to record a 5-1. This reduced the Comets deficit to just three points as the Diamonds now led 33-30.

This was set to be reduced to a single point in the next with Ricky leading from the gate while Matt Williamson rode an excellent race to hold on to third place with Christian Henry at the back. But, coming into turn one for the last time, Henry straightened up and ran across the corner, just clipped Williamson and then ploughed into the air fence at high speed with his bike rolling over the top of the air fence and into the safety zone behind.

After a delay of around 45 minutes while Henry was treated at the track before being transferred into a county ambulance and taken to West Cumberland Hospital, the match resumed with the Comets now trailing by a single point; with heat 11 having been awarded as a 4-2 to Workington.

A Comets 4-2 from Rene and Matty Wethers in heat 12 saw Workington take the lead for the first time in the match while another Comets 4-2 through Ricky and Kyle in the next saw that advantage increased to three points.

Kenneth led all the way to win heat 14 while, behind him, an excellent three-way scrap for the minor places saw Matt Williamson seemingly heading for a match winning third place before being caught right on the line by the faster finishing Rosen; who was declared to be third by the narrowest of margins.

This set up a last heat decider with the Comets having the choice of gate positions and needing two points for victory, while five points were needed to stop Newcastle taking anything from the meeting.

Ricky and Kenneth lined up against Ludvig Lindgren and Steve Worrall and when the tapes rose it was the Comets pairing that made the gate to lead into the first turn (see photo above). That's the way it remained to the delight of the Comets supporters, as Workington ran out 50-43 winners and so took three vital league points while the Diamonds left Derwent Park empty-handed - something that had seemed highly unlikely just six races earlier!

The Diamonds picked up seven race wins, which went to six different riders, while the Comets late charge was clear from the fact that they only recorded two race wins in the first nine heats but then won every one of the last six races!

WORKINGTON COMETS 50 NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS 43
Saturday, July 18, Premier League
Match points: Workington 3 Newcastle 0

WORKINGTON 'Thomas Armstrong' COMETS 50
Kyle Howarth 10, Rusty Harrison 4+1, Rene Bach 7+1, Kenneth Hansen 11+2, Ricky Wells 14, Matt Williamson 1, Matthew Wethers 3+1.

NEWCASTLE 'Sapphire Engineering' DIAMONDS 43
Steve Worrall 8, Christian Henry 5+1, Lewis Kerr 4, Anton Rosen 7+1, Ludvig Lindgren 6+1, Simon Nielsen 6+1, Rafal Konopka (guest) 7.

Referee: Chris Durno

1: Worrall, Henry, Howarth, Harrison, 64.1 (1-5)
2: Konopka, Nielsen, Wethers, Williamson, 64.9 (2-10)
3: Rosen, Hansen (15m tapes), Bach, Kerr (15m tapes), 64.4 (5-13)
4: Wells, Konopka, Lindgren, Wethers, 65.2 (8-16)
5: Bach, Hansen, Worrall, Henry, 65.3 (13-17)
6: Lindgren, Howarth, Nielsen, Harrison, 65.9 (15-21)
7: Rosen, Wells, Kerr, Williamson, 65.1 (17-25)
8: Henry, Harrison, Wethers, Konopka (fell) 66.7 (20-28)
9: (awarded) Nielsen, Hansen, Lindgren, Bach (fell/exc), no time (22-32)
10: Howarth (TR), Harrison, Kerr, Rosen, 65.8 (30-33)
11: (awarded) Wells, Worrall, Williamson, Henry (fell/exc), no time (34-35)
12: Bach, Kerr, Wethers, Nielsen, 66.5 (38-37)
13: Wells, Worrall, Howarth, Lindgren, 66.0 (42-39)
14: Hansen, Konopka, Rosen, Williamson, 66.6 (45-42)
15: Wells, Hansen, Lindgren, Worrall, 66.5 (50-43)
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Last Updated :  Sun 19 Jul 2015, 14:05 UK
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Photography
Dave Payne, Adrian Randall