A SUCCESSFUL pre-season campaign have given Coventry Sabres team manager plenty of food for thought ahead of the 2017 campaign.
The Sabres travelled to Newport on Sunday (March 5) where they pulled off a shock 92-88 win against the South West and Wales Division One champions.
Caludon Castle School student Jimmy Wassall cemented his growing reputation a rider for the future with an eye-catching performance in front of Team GB coach Stuart Raven.
Partnered with British number two and Sabres skipper Myke Grimes, Wassall secured three out of three heat advantages to help lead Coventry to victory.
Boosted by the return of Sam Hardie and Kyle Barlow, the Sabres put in an all round team performance.
A week later, Coventry hosted a talented Astley and Tyldesley side – featuring former European and World Champions.
Damian Zareba and Steve Harris helped A&T race to a narrow 92-86 victory in an entertaining clash, which featured an alarming coming together between Zareba and Grimes.
The Coventry skipper was catapulted over his handlebars, though escaped injury after landing on the infield.
Newport returned the favour to Coventry in the return challenge fixture though, as Jack Harrold and Mark Carmichael ensured a full strength Newport side took to track.
Coventry’s young and inexperienced team dug deep to stay within touching distance by the break.
Sabres’ partnership of Ollie Morris and Matt Hambidge rode their best race for Coventry in heat nine, reversing a maximum heat advantage against into a 6-4 for the home side.
Newport turned the screw after the break by taking three heat advantages, with only Grimes able to answer to their top end riders – racing unbeaten throughout.
Newport were in an unassailable lead but the Sabres showed great character to prevent further damage to the score line, which ended 99-80.
Manager Lee Marsh said: “We’ve had a really promising pre-season.
“We’ve stayed in contention in some really difficult matches and it bodes well for the rest of the season.
“Our team talks have been centred around staying out of last place this season.”