15th Nov, 2018

Coventry lose out in semi-final to Eastbourne

Craig Gibbons 25th Oct, 2018

COVENTRY’S National League challenge came to an end with a 50-40 defeat to Eastbourne on Saturday.

The Eagles deservedly progressed to the Grand Final by 40 points on aggregate having been convincingly the better team throughout the semi-final.

The Europress Bees simply had to make a fast start to the second leg to have any chance of an unlikely comeback following their 60-30 away reverse, but it never really looked on.

Despite the Bees’ efforts, Eastbourne never allowed them a serious opening and in fact led on the night for most of the second leg, importantly running just five last places.

Connor Mountain was outstanding as ever for the Bees, dropping his only point when he just missed out to Eagles skipper Mark Baseby in Heat Ten having lost ground from the outside gate.

Baseby, a former Coventry Storm rider, was also highly impressive and reeled off four wins of his own until Mountain zoomed past him and Georgie Wood off bend two to win the final race.

Mountain and Luke Harris did briefly hold a 5-1 position in Heat One but they were split by Wood and the solid middle-order Eagles pairing of Baseby and Ethan Spiller did record a maximum in Heat Three to put the visitors ahead.

Mountain aside, Bees’ best moments came from Luke Ruddick and reserve Jamie Halder, with Ruddick taking a super win in Heat Five over Wood and Jason Edwards as well as working hard to pass Charley Powell in Heat Nine.

Halder passed Spiller after a fine battle in Heat Seven and also was narrowly beaten in Heat 12 by Charley Powell after doggedly sticking to the outside.

Baseby’s win over Mountain in Heat Ten was followed by the second Eagles’ 5-1 in the next race as Coventry captain Jon Armstrong came to a halt when behind Wood and Edwards.

Eastbourne went ten points up with a 4-2 in Heat 12 and the final three races were shared to maintain their convincing overall margin, although Mountain’s last-race victory was a fitting end to proceedings.

Coventry manager Martyn Macdonald said: “We were always up against it after Wednesday, but we gave it a good go.

“Good luck to Eastbourne and Mildenhall in the final, I’m sure it will be a close one.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t do the business to make it ourselves against Mildenhall, but that’s the way it goes.

“The riders have still done themselves proud over the season.

“They’ve gelled as a team and far exceeded expectations as they were mainly riders who had been left on the scrapheap at the start, so we’re still happy with the season as we stand.”

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