Eagles off to a flyer in Elite League opener

Lewis Bridger
Lewis Bridger

Eastbourne Eagles blew away the winter cobwebs with a confident 55-40 opening night victory against the Belle Vue Aces at Arlington Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Sussex side raised the tempo following a tight start to proceedings, a single point separating the sides at the end of four races, both Joonas Kylmakorpi and Lewis Bridger suffering falls in their opening rides to hamper Eagles scoring.

The Sussex side quickly made amends for such misfortune however, a run of heat advantages that included no fewer than three maximum 5-1’s in the space of the next four races propelling them into a 31-16 lead by the conclusion of heat eight.

Tactical 6-point wins for both Adam Shields and Rory Schlein in race nine and eleven respectively applied the brakes to the Eastbourne onslaught, though such instances seldom looked likely to rein in the Eagles for whom Bridger and skipper Cameron Woodward each notched double figures and everyone of their number celebrated at least one race win.

Particularly pleasing for the home fans would have been the form shown by Lukas Dryml, making his return after serious injury and reserve Timo Lahti who each dropped a single point to the opponents, as well as the sight of fellow reserve Denis Gizatullin who romped home in his Arlington debut ride.

For the Aces, Schlein and Dane Charlie Gjedde proved to be the pick of the bunch. Elsewhere however, that tactical win from Shields apart, they seemed to be lacking in support from some of their team mates, this in total contrast to the resolute, all round performance shown by the Sussex men.

Eagles : Lewis Bridger 11(5), Cameron Woodward 10(5), Lukas Dryml 9+2(4), Timo Lahti 8+2(4), Denis Gizatullin 6+2(4), Joonas Kylmakorpi 6(4), Simon Gustafsson 5+1(4). – 55

Aces : Rory Schlein, 12(5), Charlie Gjedde, 11(5), Adam Shields, 8+1(4), Patrick Hougaard, 3(4), Josh Grajczonek, 2(4), Chris Schramm, 2(4), Linus Eklof 2(4). - 40