COVENTRY Storm’s introduction to National League racing saw them run into a hugely impressive Dudley side at Monmore Green on Tuesday.
The Heathens established a 25-point first leg lead from the meeting, although that margin didn’t reflect the efforts of the Coventry riders and after a shaky start there were several encouraging signs.
Storm were 19-5 down before they got properly started, with Joe Jacobs becoming their first winner in Heat 5 when he took six points for a tactical ride victory.
Skipper James Sarjeant then produced an excellent ride to head home Paul Starke and Dan Greenwood in Heat 9, but successive 5-1s for Dudley – the latter including a remarkable effort by youngster Max Clegg to beat Jacobs in Heat 11 – put the match well beyond doubt.
Heat 13, though, was the race of the night as Sarjeant took on the Heathens’ terrific top spearhead of Ashley Morris and Lewis Blackbird and overhauled them both before being re-passed by Morris in a fine battle.
Unfortunately, Sarjeant’s night ended with engine trouble in the early stages of Heat 15, whilst amongst the other riders Oliver Greenwood gave a consistent display and was always in the points, whilst Trevor Heath made good starts and could be pleased with his return to competitive racing.
And although it would clearly take something very special for the Storm to overturn the deficit on aggregate, the second leg at Brandon on April 19 still promises much as some very exciting young talent takes to the circuit.
Storm co-boss Blayne Scroggins said: “Dudley were really impressive, and I think they will take some stopping this year. We got caught out early on, it was a little greasy and you have to bear in mind a couple of our boys hadn’t ridden yet.
“But once they settled down and got their set-ups right I was fairly pleased with them. Joe and James both had engine problems but James was very much on the pace and giving it a go.
“These meetings are all about track-time and to get ready for the league, there’s a good team spirit building and although it’s going to be very tough (on aggregate) I hope the fans will still show their support in the second leg.”
DUDLEY 60: Ashley Morris 13+1, Lewis Blackbird 13, Paul Starke 9+1, Gareth Isherwood 8+1, Dan Greenwood 7+1, Nathan Greaves 6+1, Max Clegg 4+2.
COVENTRY 35: Oliver Greenwood 9+1, Joe Jacobs 8, James Sarjeant 8, Trevor Heath 5+2, Brendan Johnson 4, Martin Knuckey 1+1, Richard Franklin 0.
DUDLEY 60 Ashley Morris 2* 3 3 3 2* = 13+2 Gareth Isherwood 3 R 3 2* = 8+1 Paul Starke 3 1* 2 3 = 9+1 Dan Greenwood 1 2 1* 3 = 7+1 Lewis Blackbird 3 3 3 1 3 = 13 Max Clegg 2* 0 2* 0 = 4+1 Nathan Greaves 3 2* 1 F = 6+1
COVENTRY 35 Joe Jacobs 1 6^ 1 0 = 8 Richard Franklin R R M 0 = 0 Oliver Greenwood 2 1* 1 4^ 1 = 9+1 Brendan Johnson 0 2 0 2 = 4 James Sarjeant 1 2 3 2 R = 8 Trevor Heath 1 1* 2 0 1* = 5+2 Martin Knuckey 0 0 0 1* = 1+1