SWINDON ROBINS 56 EASTBOURNE EAGLES 36: Russell-ing up a beauty
HIS Swindon side may have blitzed Eastbourne by 20 points to move back into the Elite League play-off places last night, but team manager Alun Rossiter reserved the most praise for the Abbey Stadium track.
Troy Batchelor (12) and Dakota North (10) both hit double figures in the routine victory, with Nick Morris scoring eight and guests Hans Andersen and Jason Garrity paid for eight and 10 respectively, on a night where the visitors never recovered from the hosts providing the race winner in the opening five heats.
After criticism from the Robins riders earlier in the season due to the inconsistency of the circuit, the Robins boss insisted track curator Ronnie Russell had served up the best racing surface of the last three years, with Rossiter reporting similar praise from home and away riders alike.
“It was a good win for us but I really thought Eastbourne would come a bit stronger at us,” he said.
“The state of the track was absolutely A1, perfect, first class. It’s the best racing surface we’ve had for two or three years.
“Ronnie (Russell) has really worked on it and he’s got it perfect, and when you’ve got home advantage like that we can show it in the riders’ racing.
“It was great last week and credit where credit’s due. He’s taken a lot of flak but the riders loved it and Bjarne Pedersen said it’s the best track he’s raced on in four years.
“This result shows what you can do when you have real confidence in your home track.”
The Robins could easily have missed flying reserve Steve Worrall, with the youngster missing due to commitments with Edinburgh at Sheffield, but Rossiter was pleased with how Garrity stepped into his shoes.
“Jason was outstanding,” he said.
“He told me he would get Kylmakorpi in the last race and he did, he clamped him, he’s a racer and he always gives 100 per cent.
“He’s in a rival team (Coventry) going for the play-offs but he did a great job in what was a superb all-round team performance.”
Guest Andersen made a trademark start from the outside as he rolled back the years to take victory in the opener, with North doing well to battle through Timo Lahti to back him up in third, before a near-identical second heat saw Garrity win from the tapes as the impressive Nathan Greaves forced his way past Dan Halsey.
Batchelor copied Andersen with a win from the outside in his opener, with Gustafsson lost at the back, before Morris ensured the Robins provided the heat winner in all of the opening four heats as he led home a calm and assured Greaves for the first maximum of the night.
Having each won their opening rides, Batchelor and Andersen combined for a 5-1 from the gate which left the Eagles in tactical territory, with Bjarne Pedersen trusted with the black and white helmet.
The visitors initially looked as if they were going to bring back an 8-1, with Pedersen alongside Mikkel Michelsen, but Simon Gustafsson fought his way past the tactical Dane to limit the damage to a 5-3.
North’s win from the tapes in heat seven, with a hard-charging Garrity third, extended the home lead to 11 points, but Eastbourne took those points back immediately thanks to Lahti’s victory over Morris.
The second reserves’ race finished in the exact same order as the first, with Garrity heading Jacobs and Greaves home, before North’s heat 10 victory, backed up by Andersen on the run to the line, saw Joonas Kylmakorpi come out in black and white as Trevor Geer rolled the dice one more time.
Though he had little choice but to use Kylmakorpi, with Pedersen having taken the previous tactical ride, Geer’s use of black and white backfired for the second time on the night as the Finn finished third with Pedersen taking victory.
North picked up win number three as he stormed to victory in heat 12 by the length of a straight, with Greaves the real star as he held off Lahti despite the Finn trying every line to find his way through the youngster.
Batchelor’s third win of the night, ahead of Pedersen, as good as sealed all the points with two races to go, before Morris and Garrity made certain with a 5-1 in the penultimate race.
The final heat was shared, with Batchelor winning on what was an encouraging evening with the play-offs creeping ever closer.
Next up on for the Robins is a trip to Coventry on Monday night, where they will again be without number one Peter Kildemand after the Dane was signed off for another week by doctors following a heavy crash in Poland on Sunday.
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