THE meeting started well enough and Lasse Bjerre served notice on the rest of the Premier League that he’s a fast and fearless No 1 – but it ended up being another miserable night for Redcar Bears.
The Ecco Finishing Bears were beaten 50-40 by derby rivals Newcastle Diamonds in the Premier League and are still looking for their first win of the year.
It’s still early days – very early days – and it would be wrong to write the season off already, but you do fear it could be a long, hard campaign.
It had all looked so promising after heat one.
Bjerre, who dropped only two points all night – both to former Bear Steve Worrall – was passed by Christian Henry but battled his way back to the front before Jan Graversen also got the better of Henry to chalk up a big 5-1.
The visitors cut the gap by two points after Rafal Konopka got out of shape while leading and allowed Simon Nielsen past in the second attempt at running heat two.
The first attempt ended with Ben Morley being harshly excluded for going down at the first bend. Referee Dave Dowling reckoned there had been no contact but the number of missing spokes in Morley’s front wheel after the spill suggested otherwise. It’s been a tough start to the season for Morley but he didn’t deserve that.
The Diamonds sank their teeth into Jitendra Duffill’s men with a 5-1 in heat three to take the lead for the first time and after that you couldn’t really see a way back for the Bears.
Race wins weren’t a major issue for the hosts, but they simply didn’t have the strength in depth to turn drawn heats into heat advantages.
The tipping point came when the visitors were handed a 5-0 in the twice restarted heat seven. First Konopka was thrown out – again harshly – for going down as he exited the first bend and then Matej Kus suffered the same fate for a spill in a similar spot, leaving Lewis Kerr and Anton Rose the simple task of just staying on to extend their side’s lead by five points.
The Newcastle 5-1 that followed meant the Bears could use the black and white tactical helmet colour and team boss Duffill produced it straight away, with Kus the man to don it.
In the event it had only limited effect, with Kus finishing third. He would have doubled his two-point return from that race, though, had Hugh Skidmore not made the schoolboy error of simply forgetting his team-mate was in black and white and not even looking behind him, let alone letting him past. When the chips are down you could do without that sort of situation.
When Bjerre flew round Rosen next time out to partner Graversen to a 5-1 it cut the gap to six points and sparked hopes of an unlikely revival.
Then when Bjerre and Konopka shot to the front in the next heat those hopes were raised even higher, but the Pole was passed by first Worrall and then Henry.
Thereafter it was only going to end one way, especially with Worrall finding his top game and lowering Bjerre’s colours in heats 13 and 15.
There’s no getting away from it, this was a disappointing performance from the Bears.
They are still missing injured skipper Stuart Robson and would almost certainly have scored more with him in the team than the five points they took from the rider replacement facility. Bjerre had an outstanding night, you can’t really knock Kus for two victories so soon after a painful shoulder injury and Graversen did more than his job as a second string – but after that the simple fact is that they weren’t good enough.
BEARS: Lasse Bjerre 14+2, Jan Graversen 10+1, Matej Kus 8+1, Hugh Skidmore 5, Rafal Konopka 2 Ben Morley 1+1, R/R for Stuart Robson.
DIAMONDS: Steve Worrall 9+1, Ludvig Lindgren 9, Simon Nielsen 8+3, Anton Rosen 8+2, Lewis Kerr 8, Christian Henry 7+1, Luke Crang 1