Sunday September 18, 2016
The BMR Raiders rounded out their home Travel Plus National League programme with what ultimately proved a comfortable 54-36 victory over the Isle of Wight at Rye House on Sunday evening.

Rob Branford and Ben Morley both posted maximums, with captain Luke Priest dropping points in just one of his five outings, while George Hunter enjoyed two more race wins and Connor Locke’s full complement of seven rides produced paid 9. Macauley Leek completed the scoring with 1 point and an unlucky fall in Heat 11 when holding third.

In total, the Raiders supplied fourteen of the fifteen race wins.

The win – the Teams’ fourth in a row, and its fifth from their last six matches – cements Rye’s position of ninth in the table, and opens the opportunity to climb higher with the right results from their three remaining away fixtures.

But if the final score and general statistics were decisive, the early stages were anything but that. The Warriors held the margin to 29-25 after nine races - with no less than seven of those heats producing 3-3s - and were unlucky not to be on level ground after Nathan Stoneman fell on the very last bend of Heat 2 to turn a visiting 4-2 into a home one.

The match finally swung when Branford blasted past Lee Smart on the second lap to take the main three points in Heat 10, with the resulting 4-2 pushing the score to 33-27. Once the Raiders were clear, they really let rip, with three 5-1s coming from the remaining five races. Priest and Locke collected the first of those in Heat 12, with both Warriors falling, while Branford and Morley produced their customary Heat 13 display – with Morley returning the previous week’s favour by slowing on the run-in to allow his partner the full victory and the chance of a full maximum while he himself settled for a paid one.

Branford duly delivered on that promise by romping home with Priest in the finale to give the Raiders their eighteen point winning margin and give Team Manager Peter Schroeck an extra reason to celebrate his 50th birthday.

His captain Luke Priest was in an equally jubilant mood afterwards. “We are on the crest of a wave at the moment. We’re high, we’re feeling that way, and you can’t argue that we deserved to win.”

Of the one that personally got away from him (Heat 5): “George (Hunter) made a good start and I tried to protect him, but in doing that I made a mistake and left the door open for Mark (Baseby). Yes, I got beat, but George managed to win the race so it wasn’t all for no reason.

“We all know that George has had a really difficult season with injuries. He started to find his feet and confidence, and then got knocked back again, but he’s getting better and better now which is encouraging and we’re really happy for him.

“Overall, it was a great Team performance, and if we can do this in the last three away meetings we’ll be really happy.”

Those three matches take the Raiders to King’s Lynn (Wednesday), Coventry (Friday) and Buxton (date tbc). Says Priest, “I think that King’s Lynn will be the toughest of our three on the road, but we will go there on the crest of a wave like I say, and aim to do the business.

“We all want the season to keep going the way it has these last two months.”

BMR Raiders:

Rob Branford 15 (5 rides, max), Luke Priest 12+1 (5), Ben Morley 11+1 (4 rides, max), George Hunter 8 (5), Connor Locke 7+2 (7), Macauley Leek 1 (4), Matt Saul R/R

Isle of Wight:

Nathan Stoneman 8+2 (6 rides), James Cockle 7 (4), Mark Baseby 6 (4), Layne Cupitt 5+2 (5), Lee Smart 5+1 (4), Chris Widman 4+2 (4), Kelsey Dugard 1+1 (3)

Match Points: Rye House 3 Isle of Wight 0