COVENTRY suffered their heaviest defeat of the season as they went down 60-30 at Eastbourne in the first leg of their National League play-off semi-final.
The Eagles went into the meeting on a high after hitting 58 points against title favourites Mildenhall in the KO Cup Final on Saturday and built on that momentum to secure a hefty advantage at the halfway stage of the tie.
Home No.1 Georgie Wood scored a paid maximum from five rides, but there was no doubt the main damage was done by reserve Charlie Brooks, a speedway newcomer this season.
Brooks took extra rides with the Eagles using rider-replacement and piled up a remarkable 19+1 score, being unbeaten with six successive wins until Bees guest Nathan Stoneman took Heat 14 to deprive him of a full house.
Stoneman and Connor Mountain were Coventry’s only two race winners on a tough night, with the Eagles able to cover for an off-night from Charley Powell, who fell when on a 5-1 with Brooks in Heat Rwo.
That helped Bees to remain in touch over the first third of the meeting, despite a fall for Stoneman on the last bend of Heat Three after battle with Mark Baseby.
Mountain’s pass on Baseby in Heat Five resulted in the Eastbourne man coming down with Bees awarded a 5-1, and at that stage they only trailed 18-12.
But the Eagles collected 5-1s in three of the next five races to extend the lead to a 20-point margin, with Brooks winning back-to-back in Heats Eight and Nine respectively with Baseby overhauling Luke Ruddick in the latter.
Mountain and Ruddick shared Heat 11 behind Tom Brennan, but another 5-1 followed in the next as Baseby re-passed Luke Harris, although Mountain managed to split Wood and Brennan in the next.
Stoneman held off Jason Edwards to win Heat 14 but the last race was also destined to go against the Bees as Wood came through from a 15-metre handicap after mechanical trouble to join Brennan up-front, and as Mountain tried to respond he came down on the last bend.
The return leg of the semi-final takes place at Leicester on Saturday (6.30pm) with Bees looking to turn the tables and collect a home win.
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