COVENTRY Storm were brought down to earth in a big way by local rivals Dudley who romped to a 62-30 win at Monmore Green on Tuesday.
The Storm went into the meeting off the back of wins over King’s Lynn and Stoke in their last two National League outings, but they were well beaten by a very impressive Heathens outfit in the Black Country.
The home side provided twelve of the fifteen race winners and also only ran two last places, with their teenage reserves Max Clegg and Nathan Greaves playing starring roles as they covered admirably for the injured Gareth Isherwood.
British Under-21 Champion Robert Branford had the most success for the visitors, winning two races and also denying home man Lewis Blackbird a maximum with a fine passing move in the last heat of the night.
Joe Jacobs was the Storm’s only other winner, but he was also involved in a spectacular accident in Heat 13 when he clipped team-mate James Sarjeant as they exited the fourth bend, with Heathens captain Ashley Morris having nowhere to go and flying over Sarjeant.
Fortunately there were no injuries but it completed a tough night for the Storm captain who fell in his first ride when chasing Blackbird and also saw his attempt for double-points in Heat 9 foiled by Paul Starke and Darryl Ritchings.
The Storm also struggled in the lower-order, although Luke Crang – making his first visit to Monmore – did improve as the night went on, taking a decent third place in Heat 12, whilst two races later he and Brendan Johnson held a 5-1 position until Crang got too close to his team-mate on the third bend and had to bale out, with Dudley’s Darryl Ritchings doing well to lay his machine down and prevent serious damage.
Three 5-1s in the first four races had put the Heathens in full control, although with the gap only increasing by another two points in the next three heats the Storm still had ambitions of salvaging a league point.
But Heats 8 and 9 both went the way of the home side by the maximum margin and that meant it was damage limitation, with a further brace of 5-1s in Heats 13 and 14 after the various crashes virtually ensuring the Heathens would go through the 60-point barrier.
The Storm at least get the chance to bounce back quickly when they face Kent in their next National League fixture at Brandon on Friday (7.30pm).
Co-boss Laurence Rogers said: “It was very disappointing because we came here thinking we could do something, but Dudley didn’t make any mistakes and we just weren’t at the races today.
“Robert rode with his head and used his track craft which was great, but I don’t really know where to pinpoint it with the rest, it was just a bad night for us.
“It wasn’t through any lack of effort, though, and hopefully we can bounce back with a very good win on Friday.”
DUDLEY 62: Ashley Morris 13+1, Paul Starke 13, Lewis Blackbird 12+1, Max Clegg 12+1, Nathan Greaves 7+3, Darryl Ritchings 5+3, Gareth Isherwood r/r. COVENTRY 30: Robert Branford 14, Joe Jacobs 6, James Sarjeant 4, Luke Crang 3+1, Brendan Johnson 2, Martin Knuckey 1, Ryan Terry-Daley 0.