The Eagles are in the 2011 Elite League Play Off Final.
The Sussex speedway completed a night of triumph at Arlington Stadium on Monday evening as they saw off the dogged and stubborn challenge posed by near neighbours and local rivals, the Lakeside Hammers.
They overturned a narrow one-point deficit from the previous Monday’s first leg, winning out by an eventual 14-point, 53-39 margin to progress to the domestic sports showpiece event where they will face table toppers, the Poole Pirates.
With just one-point separating the teams, the Hammers taking the win, 47-46 seven days previously, much talk surrounded the probability of a comfortable passage through for the Sussex side.
However, despite an authoritative opening, one that garnered back to back 5-1’s in two of the first three races to open up an early eight-point advantage, they were made to fight tooth and nail, pretty much every step of the way, the Eagles only finally cementing their place in the final as Lewis Bridger and hero reserve Cameron Woodward seized a 4-2 from the penultimate race.
Indeed, the Eagles Captain was once more the man of the moment from the reserve berth racking up a lofty paid 16-point total from his seven outings but he was to receive solid back up from Bjarne Pedersen, with wins in each of his final three races, and Bridger, 11-paid 12 from five starts, in particular.
Elsewhere, although maybe they didn’t enjoy their best nights in Eagles colours, Simon Gustafsson, Timo Lahti and Joonas Kylmakorpi all starred in 5-1 advantages when it mattered most, rounding off another effectual home performance, the latter’s shared with Pedersen against heavy hitting Hammers Lee Richardson and Peter Ljung coming in heat 13, one that took Eastbourne to the threshold of their place in the final.
On the flip side of the coin, it was not only the efforts of Richardson and Ljung, a combined total of 24-points between them, that kept the Hammers in contention for much of the contest, a wholly impressive paid 12-point performance from number six Robert Mear also ensured that the Eagles were kept on their toes throughout.
Pedersen rounded off the match in fitting style, recording a second victory over Richardson, Bridger following in third place for a closing 4-2.
It was certainly a case of Party Hardy at the Sussex by this time however, the supporters enjoying the moment, a Play Off Final date in prospect and the Poole Pirates locked within their sights.
Eagles: Cameron Woodward 14+2(7), Bjarne Pedersen 13(5), Lewis Bridger 11+1(5), Joonas Kylmakorpi 7+1(4), Simon Gustafsson 6+3(5), Timo Lahti 2+1(4), Rider Replacement for Lukas Dryml. – 53 (Aggregate - 99)
Hammers: Peter Ljung 14(5), Lee Richardson 10(5), Robert Mear 9+3(7), Jonas Davidsson 4(4), Stuart Robson 1(5), Kim Nilsson 1(4), Rider Replacement for Piotr Swiderski. – 39 (Aggregate - 86)