Bridger heroics ensures Lakeside Hammers salvage point
- Credit: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO
Elite League: Lakeside Hammers 45 Poole Pirates 45
Lakeside don’t do things by halves and some last heat heroics from Lewis Bridger saw them salvage a draw in their final home meeting of the season against play-off bound Poole Pirates.
The meeting summed up the state of affairs that have been Lakeside’s season – a strong start and despite Bridger’s efforts, a poor finish.
However, Bridger ensured an action-packed finale as he locked horns with Poole guest Peter Kildemand on the final corner.
The two collided and the latter came off the worst, with his bike packing up and enabling Bridger and team-mate Danny King to ensure a final heat 5-1 to see the Hammers end their campaign with a home draw.
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It had all started with a win for skipper Davey Watt after he’d swept past Aussie compatriot Cameron Woodward to secure a shared heat.
But it all started to click with a fine team riding maximum from reserve duo Ben Morley and Adam Ellis to keep Kyle Newman at bay.
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Vaclav Milik flipped his bike at the start of heat three, but in the re-run King and Richard Lawson held off Newman again for back-to-back 5-1s and put the hosts in command at 13-5.
The Pirates hit back though with a maximum of their own despite the efforts of Bridger.
King battled his way through the pack in heat five to join Watt on a home 5-1, only to let it slip literally on the final bend for a shared heat.
Bridger took the chequered flag in heat six but couldn’t be joined by Lawson in the next, and though home guest Aaron Summers managed to find a way past Josh Grajczonek, Newman ensured a 4-2 for the visitors to reduce the arrears to just two at 22-20 after seven heats.
Bridger was at his exciting best in sweeping past Woodward, while Lawson overtook Milik to restore the four-point cushion.
Despite a third successive win for Watt, Poole had more than found their feet and Newman continued his good night with his first victory, which was swiftly followed by Kildemand’s maiden success.
And as the meeting approached the crunch point, the Pirates upped the stakes with a comfortable maximum from Woodward and Newman.
It only got worse for the hosts as that was swiftly followed by another after Watt pulled out through injury and both Kildemand and Maciej Janowski overtook King on the opening lap.
That left the Hammers staring down the barrel and even an emphatic win from Bridger in the penultimate heat left the hosts needing a maximum to ensure a draw.
The unexpected almost looked possible when Janowski fell and Kildemand wasn’t under power when referee Paul Carrington called a halt to the heat.
Janowski was excluded, but Kildemand remained in the re-run much to the annoyance of the home supporters.
Kildemand looked on course to win the re-run, but Bridger kept pace with the Dane, and as the pair clashed Kildemand’s bike packed up, with Bridger taking the chequered flag and King following him over the line to send the home fans wild.
And despite an entertaining final heat, it brought the curtain down on another season as the Hammers look set to miss out on the play-offs.
Even if they get a four-point win in the final meeting at league leaders King’s Lynn their chances are slim with other sides with plenty of meetings in hand over the Hammers.
Lakeside Hammers 45: Watt 9 (from 4 rides), Summers 2 (4), Lawson 4+2 (4), Bridger 13 (5), King 8+1 (5), Morley 6 (4), Ellis 3+2 (4).
Poole Pirates 45: Kildemand 8+3 (5), Woodward 10 (4), Milik 3+1 (4), Grajczonek 3+2 (4), Janowski 7 (5), Compton 0 (1), Newman 14+2 (7)