The Isle of Wight lived up to their Warriors name at Arlington Saturday by fighting all the way for the National League points on offer.
They kept packing the minor places and it wasn’t until the closing stages that the IT First Eagles put clear water between the teams as Adam Ellis and Jake Knight twice combined for 5-1 wins.
First surprise of the night was to see Ben Hopwood at No 1 for the Island outfit.
The former Eagle responsded to a late call to replace Benji Compton who was suffering a wrist injury.
Eagles’ Adam Ellis scorched from the tapes in heat one and kept the gas on for the full four laps to record a time of 57.8 seconds, a new NL track record.
His previous record stood at 58.3.
Hopwood and Kelsey Dugard filled the minor places.
Matt Saul showed at the front early doors in heat two but came to grief at the start of the back straight on lap one. After lengthy treatment he walked from the track but was withdrawn from the meeting on medical grounds.
In the re-run Charley Powell and Nick Phillips were well set until Phillips fell while they were on a 5-1.
Ellis Perks went through the tapes at the start of heat three and was penalised by 15m.
He quickly got on to the back of the train but couldn’t get past the experienced Mark Baseby and into the points.
At this stage the IT First Eagles were 9-8 ahead and they eased further away with Jake Knight going out into the dirt, passing James Cockle and clearing off into the distance.
Charley Powell secured third place and the lead was 13-10.
Hopwood showed he still knows how to ride Arlington with a trademark poweful ride in heat five after Kelsey Dugard had crashed into Georgie Wood.
Ellis took heat eight with ease but it ended 3-3.
The Warriors showed their fight when Mark Baseby cashed in on a mistake by early leader Jake Knight.
Knight went from first to third and quickly into second as he brushed Lee Smart aside.
He was still chasing Baseby hard when Nick Phillips came down with the race stopped and awarded.
The Isle of Wight 4-2 left the score 21-20 to the Eagles.
The visitors were now fast running out of riders with both Saul and Dugard out.
They tracked only Tyler Govier in heat eight and Luke Harris and Charley Powell cashed in with a 5-1 to give the home camp some breathing space at 26-21.
Heat nine was drawn and the Eagles took a 4-2 in heat 10 thanks to an Ellis victory and a third from Harris behind Baseby with Lee Smart retiring.
Knight took the flag in heat 11 with Hopwood and the busy Govier filling the minor places.
At 36-29 the Eagles looked to be home if not quite hosed.
And so it proved.
In heat 12 Perks fell and the Warriors took a 4-2 thanks to a heat win from Lee Smart.
Powell, now equally as busy as the remaining IoW reserve, got the second place point in front of Govier. After 12 heats it was 38-33 and that was the Warriors’ high water mark. Ellis and Knight wrapped up 5-1s in heat 13 and 15 and Powell and Wood filled the minor places in heat 14 behind Baseby. Eastbourne’s first home NL match of the season put three more league points in the locker.
Three riders were withdrawn from the meeting. Nick Phillips has a suspected broken wrist. Kelsey Dugard suffered a thigh injury and Matt Saul and elbow injury. Eastbourne captain Georgie Wood survived a high-speed crash with former team-mate Kelsey Dugard to lead his team to victory over the Isle of Wight. Wood was propelled head first into the air barrier at high speed after Dugard picked up mid corner and went straight into the IT First Eagle.
He said: “All I felt was his front wheel on my neck. The next thing my bike reared up and I had to let go. As he (Kelsey) came into the turn I could hear his motor was ‘off’ – it was flat. Then I heard him crack it on and it must have lifted. You cannot do anything about, tight racing as it is.”
“It’s all part of racing really.
“I have to say my neck brace did its job. God knows what would have happened without that.
“You don’t really remember a lot. You hit the fence first and you wait for the bike to follow you in. Luckily it didn’t.”
His No 1 bike was badly damaged in the crash and was forced to his second machine which is set for bigger tracks.
Wood was pleased with the overall team performance and said the Eagles were heading in the right direction.
He said: “We are getting better and better. We had a few injuries at the beginning of the year and it does take a little bit of time for the team to gel together.
“ We are on the way up now and we can progress from tonight.”
Adam Ellis lowered the NL track record to 57.8 seconds in heat one. He previously held the record at 58.3 seconds
RESULT and scorers from Saturday’s Travel Plus National League match at Arlington:
EASTBOURNE 51: Adam Ellis 14+1, Jake Knight 13+1, Charley Powell 10+1, Georgie Wood 7+2, Luke Harris 4, Ellis Perks 3+1, Nick Phillips 0.
ISLE OF WIGHT 38: Mark Baseby 9+1, Ben Hopwood 9, Tyler Govier 7+1, James Cockle 6+1, Lee Smart 6, Kelsey Dugard 1+1, Matt Saul 0.