Eagles seek flying start in play-off final at Arlington
Eastbourne Speedway's date with destiny is tomorrow (Saturday, 7.30pm) when they welcome Belle Vue Colts to Arlington Stadium in the first leg of the National League Play Offs Grand Final.
The IT First Eagles meet the Manchester club home and away to decide who will have the honour of being this year’s champions.
Eastbourne made it through to the final by finishing in the top four of the regular season and then defeating the Kent Kings in one of the semi-finals – the Colts beating Lakeside at the same stage.
The Eagles will welcome back Jake Knight to the team. He was banned from the last two home matches after missing the National League Riders’ Championship at Leicester when he had no equipment to ride.
Belle Vue are led by one of the country’s up-and-coming prospects, Dan Bewley, who has wowed crowds across Britain in the last two years with his spectacular style.
Eastbourne will be hoping to make it third time lucky when it comes to the league, having finished runners-up in 2015, when there was no Play Off system, and were defeated last year by Birmingham in the Play Off Final.
They will be without Charley Powell, who has a prior commitment, and will use a rule, known as rider replacement, to cover his four rides. Tom Brennan (one ride) and reserves Drew Kemp and Mattie Bates are likely to share the other three.
Team manager Connor Dugard said before a wheel was turned this season that the Colts would be favourites for the title and accepts his Eagles are underdogs over the two legs – the return fixture is at the National Speedway Stadium next Wednesday (October 18).
He said, “We are expecting a great night of speedway on Saturday and hope the crowd really gets behind the lads to create a brilliant atmosphere.
“The whole team is up for it and hopefully we can go one better than last year.
“Obviously, we want to build a lead to take into the second leg and that’s what will be working to do.”
Eastbourne: Josh Bailey, Charley Powell R/R, Georgie Wood, Tom Brennan, Jake Knight, Drew Kemp, Mattie Bates.
Belle Vue Colts: Dan Bewley, Kyle Bickley, Lee Payne R/R, Rob Shuttleworth, Jack Smith, Andy Mellish, Luke Woodhull.
*Sandwiched between the two play off matches is Eastbourne’s final match of the regular season, away to Cradley, which has twice been postponed.