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Heathens 51 Mildenhall 37
12:08am Wednesday 24th October 2012 in Sport
A LATE surge from Dudley Heathens put them in the driving seat of the National League Grand Final.
The former Cradley club will take a 14 point advantage into Wednesday’s second leg thanks to 5-1s in heats 13 and 14 at Monmore Green last night.
Dudley’s task looked tough following the early loss of Tom Perry with a suspected broken thumb after a high-speed crash.
But Ashley Morris, Adam Roynon and Darryl Ritchings held their nerve in tough racing conditions to build a first leg advantage.
Perry’s crash in heat five was undoubtedly the most dramatic moment of a meeting which had more than its fair share, as riders struggled on the slippy track.
The heat had already been halted once following a first bend collision but in the restart Perry collided with Mildenhall number one Jason Garrity and the two were flung into the air fence, with the Heathens man appearing to actually go underneath it.
Garrity was immediately on his feet and his concern was shared by around 20 others who raced from the pits and began lifting the fence off the home rider.
With Perry gone, the Heathens task looked grim but they were able to build and maintain a small lead, capitalising on mistakes from their opponents while also benefiting some questionable refereeing.
The tone of the night was set in the first heat. Roynon, back after an injury lay-off, almost crashed on the first bend before Garrity did go down for the visitors despite having a clear lead.
Further blunders from Mildenhall followed in heat two as Ryan Terry Daley was disqualified after twice failing to make the time limit and then Josh Bates dramatically crashed out while leading. That allowed Ritchings and James White Williams to claim a 5-0 for the hosts - the first of four maximum hauls compared to just one for the visitors.
It wasn’t until heat four all riders made it round safely but the mood quickly changed with Perry’s crash.
Roynon and Dan Greenwood claimed a 5-1 in heat six but from then on it was nip and tuck until the former and Morris teamed up for the next maximum seven heats later.
Ritchings then stormed past Dan Halsey on the line in heat 14 before Garrity claimed the final heat to limit his side’s losses.
Dudley 51: Ashley Morris 15+1, Darryl Ritchings 14+2, Adam Roynon 12+1, James White Williams 5+3, Dan Greenwood 5+2, Tom Perry 0, Byron Bekker R/R
Mildenhall 37: Joe Jacobs 13, Jason Garrity 8+1, Daniel Halsey 7+2, Stefan Nielsen 7, Ryan Terry Daley 2, Josh Bates 0, Lewis Blackbird R/R