Tuesday May 29, 2012
DUDLEY Heathens have retained the National Shield by a ten-point aggregate margin with a hard-fought win over Mildenhall.

Heathens went into Tuesday night’s second leg at Monmore Green one point behind, and one of the biggest crowds since their National League launch two years ago turned out for what proved to be a highly entertaining meeting.

With a series of fine passing moves, Heathens roared into a 23-7 lead after five races, with the Fen Tigers weakened by the loss of Joe Jacobs in Heat 1 as he spun on the third lap and suffered a wrist injury when he was clipped by the closely-following James White-Williams.

But the visitors gradually pegged the Heathens, helped by a spectacular tactical ride win by 15-year-old Nathan Stoneman as he surged from third to first in Heat 8 – although the fact that he was replacing the originally-programmed Jacobs meant he shouldn’t have been allowed to race for double.

Byron Bekker enjoyed his most convincing display of the season but fell in Heat 9, and skipper Adam Roynon also came to grief in the next race with the Fen Tigers clawing back a 5-1.

Heathens were left on the brink of aggregate victory ahead of Heat 13 only for Ashley Morris to fall on turn two, but they finally clinched it with one race to spare. A 3-3 would have been enough in Heat 14, but Bekker and Darryl Ritchings both came inside Daniel Halsey off the final bend for a popular 5-1.

Roynon said: “I was happy to lift the Shield last year as stand-in captain, and I’m absolutely delighted to do it this year in front of our home fans as the full team captain.

“We can also learn something from the meeting with the way Mildenhall came back at us, because we could well end up facing them again this year, and it was a very different match after two big wins here. But the whole team scored, and it was really good to see Byron going well.

“I love racing here and the crowd give us such a lift, it’s great when they’re all on their feet cheering as we win races, and that’s what we hope to keep doing!”

DUDLEY 52 (98): Adam Roynon 11, Tom Perry 10+1, Ashley Morris 9, Byron Bekker 8+1, Darryl Ritchings 6+1, Dan Greenwood 5+1, James White-Williams 3+1.

MILDENHALL 41 (88): Nathan Stoneman 13, Cameron Heeps 10, Stefan Nielsen 10, Lewis Blackbird 4+3, Daniel Halsey 4+2, Joe Jacobs 0, Tom Woolley 0.

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