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Opening heat underway at West Row Image Credit: Derek Leader

Devils competitive but no point

REPORT Sunday 1st August 2021, 6:28pm

by Mike Hunter

The Stellar Devils eventually went down 50-39 in the National Development League at Mildenhall this afternoon, after a hotly-contested and eventful meeting. There were numerous reruns and fallers (no injuries thankfully) especially in the early stages, on a track affected by rain and a banger meeting.

The track staff did well though and things did eventually settle down. Devils' team boss Alan Budzynski said "I thought we were unlucky not to come away with something. Several times we were well placed in heats which were stopped and didn't do so well in the restart.

"The track was pretty slippery at the start. I was pleased to see George Rothery have his best meeting for a while, and Gregor Millar is certainly making progress."

The Devils might have gone even closer but for a difficult afternoon suffered by no. 1 Nathan Greaves. He led heat 1 down the back straight but fell going in to the third bend. He fell again in his next ride then picked up 5 points from his last three heats, losing second place in the final heat on the last corner.

He's coming back from a couple of crashes but both his teams need Nathan to regain his pre-injury form and confidence as soon as he can.

Danny Phillips had a productive afternoon and was the Devils' first race winner in heat 3. Fen Tigers were six points up after six heats but then Devils took advantage of a tape touch by Jordon Jenkins (who went off 15 metres) to record a 5-1 from the lively Rothery backed up by Phillips.

A couple of shared heats followed, heat 9 being the first win of the day for Tom Woolley. Mildenhall extended their lead with a heat 10 4-2 then added another point when Jenkins beat Greaves in a two-man finish to heat 11. Both Sam Hagon and Gregor Millar were fallers.

The Devils maintained their challenge as Phillips won again in heat 12, and Sam Woolley took an important point.

Greaves managed to split the strong pair of Edwards and Jenkins in heat 13, leaving Devils trailing by 5 with two races left. An over-eager George Rothery caught the tapes with his helmet and had to ride off 15 metres in heat 14, storming through to second place, but the win for ex-Monarch Luke Ruddick clinched three points for the homesters.

Devils needed an advantage from the final heat to take a point. That was obviously going to be tough against Jenkins and Edwards and although Greaves held second for most of the race, he gave way on the last lap to concede what was only the second 5-1 of the day by the Fen Tigers.