Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Eastbourne Eagles 54 v 39 Rye House Raiders

Sunday 7th June 2015
National League Speedway
Arlington Stadium, Hailsham
Admission: £12.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 800 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

Following my first most enjoyable experience of speedway a fortnight ago, today I made a return visit to Arlington. Indeed, I almost certainly would have returned last Sunday, had the Cup meeting against the Birmingham Brummies not been rained off. In fact, I think I have probably found a sport to follow during the dark summer months without football...

Whereas the last meeting against Cradley Heath always promised to be a close and entertaining encounter, with the hosts virtually invincible at home and the visitors top of the league, one of the biggest names at this level in speedway, and who brought a relatively sizeable and vociferous following down with them, today's meeting did not contain the same ingredients. The Rye House Raiders are an affiliation with the Premier League outfit Rye House Rockets, and somewhat against expectations, went into this fixture in the bottom three of the table. Rye House have already raced at Arlington this season in May, losing 56-36 in the National Trophy, and had only won one of their six league meetings so far this season. The programme sold today was the one prepared for last Sunday's postponed meeting, with a four page insert relevant to today's meeting including scorecard, presentation of today's visitors and some other snippets of updated news.

On a generally clear afternoon, warm in the sunshine, this meeting was completely dominated by the Eastbourne Eagles, and without a rally in the later heats, the final scoreline would have been much more one-sided than it finished. The Eagles won the first four heats, including two 5-1's, to open up a ten point lead. They opened that up to twenty points by the end of the eighth heat, thanks to two further 5-1's, and although a Rye House rider won two of the first ten heats, the team did not outscore the Eagles in any of the heats.

After an interval to prepare the track, with the recent prolonged sunshine causing dusty conditions, finally the Raiders made some inroads into the Eagles' lead, albeit by now surely a consolation losing point was the best they could hope for. After playing their joker in the eleventh heat, they reduced the deficit by three points, and then went on to win the following two heats, including a 5-1, to reduce the Eagles' lead to eleven points. That was to be as good as it got for the visitors though, as the Eagles won the final two heats 4-2, to secure a 15 point margin of victory, a victory which saw the Eagles rise to the summit of the table, albeit after more meetings than the surrounding teams.

Whilst this meeting lacked the excitement and close nature of the Cradley Heathens fixture a fortnight ago, it was still a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine, enjoying the competitive yet relaxed and friendly atmosphere that seems to present at speedway meetings.

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