THE Buildbase Bees signed off for 2008 in style with an emphatic Craven Shield triumph to secure their sixth item of major team silverware in four years.
Bees have been specialists in two-legged Finals over that time, generally managing to hold things tight away and then making no mistake at home - and this particular success had none of the nerves of the Cup and Shield wins of 2007.
Injury-hit Lakeside have done their best to patch up their team over the last two months of the season, but only Andreas Jonsson was able to offer a consistent challenge to the Bees in this second leg tie.
Each of the Coventry riders were involved in at least one 5-1, and there was the highly unusual statistic of maximums at the top and the bottom of the order.
Hans Andersen got the better of Jonsson on three occasions to more than maintain his strong finish to the season - and there was a sensational 12-point maximum at reserve from the effervescent Ben Barker, who has been one of the major plus points of the season.
The middle-order was rock-solid with Olly Allen dropping his only point to Jonsson in Heat 1 - and Simon Stead, too, was only beaten by the Hammers' No.1 who he had the misfortune of meeting in three of his four rides!
There was some fine racing on a cold evening in front of a big crowd, even if the aggregate issue was always very much in Coventry's favour after they had made a blistering start to proceedings.
Lakeside's hopes of putting pressure on were dented immediately when Jonsson was beaten in the first race, outgated by Andersen and Allen, and although the Swede managed to round Allen on the second lap, he had too much to do to catch Andersen.
Barker then started his dream night with a spectacular last-to-first move on the first lap of Heat 2, hitting the front as he went into the first bend second time around. Better still for the Bees, Filip Sitera remained in contention on the first lap and then also took the outside route to pass Ricky Kling and give the home side more breathing space.
Billy Janniro flew off the inside gate to dominate Heat 3, and for a time it looked as though the Bees would be split by Leigh Lanham - but Chris Harris, after three laps of attempted cut-backs, then rode around his opposing skipper on the back straight to complete the second successive 5-1.
And two rapidly became three in Heat 4 with Barker making a good start only for Krzysztof Jablonski to seemingly take an early advantage - only for Barker and Simon Stead to go either side of the Hammers rider off turn two, leaving the visitors in an ever-worsening position.
There was a response, however, from Lakeside in Heat 5 with a surprise 5-1 as Harris found himself mired at the back and unable to mount any challenge to Jonsson, who was clear at the front, and Lanham, who produced a good defence of second place against Janniro.
But it was a brief respite because Bees were straight back on the gas in Heat 6 thanks to the Allen/Andersen combination, Allen rounding Tomasz Jedrzejak on the back straight and then, as the Pole tried to respond off turn four, he was trapped by Andersen's inside switch which left him in third place.
Jonsson, as expected, took a tactical ride in Heat 7 with the Hammers urgently needing the biggest advantage - but they had to be content with a 7-2 thanks to a good start by Stead, which saw him lead Jonsson for two laps before the Lakeside No.1 stormed through on the inside on the third lap.
It meant Bees still held a 13-point aggregate lead with the tactical ride completed, and they wasted no time in building it back up thanks to a 5-1 in Heat 8 as Barker gated ahead of Jablonski and clamped his rival, then holding a good inside line throughout as Allen controlled the outside line.
Jedrzejak had shown hints of good pace if only he could find clear air, and he did just that in Heat 9 with Harris sluggish from the outside - although another lap to the race would have been interesting as Harris, having cleared Kling and team-mate Janniro, made up enormous ground only to run out of time.
Jedrzejak, however, once again found himself beaten by Allen and Andersen in Heat 10, and it was almost a repeat performance of Heat 6 with Andersen this time making his inside passing move coming off turn four as Jedrzejak again tried to get to grips with Allen.
That all left the Hammers requiring a highly unlikely series of results in the final five races, and it was never likely to happen, even with Jonsson winning Heat 11 easily enough ahead of Sitera and Stead, who packed in for second and third.
Bees simply had to avoid a 5-1 reverse in Heat 12 to make mathematically sure, and they did so in style as Barker and Harris both made it from the start ahead of Jablonski and a subdued Jonas Davidsson - and the way was clear for Barker to collect his maiden maximum at Elite League level, and the Bees to celebrate the club's fourth Craven Shield victory.
The final three heats provided more good action, first with a splendid battle between Andersen and Jonsson in Heat 13 after Jonsson had rounded Stead on the second lap. He then gained ground and tried an outside swoop off turn four, but Andersen's shorter inside route got him to the flag just in front as he remained unbeaten.
Then in Heat 14 Janniro appeared to have come out on top in a well-contested first bend, only for Davidsson to put in easily his best ride of the meeting to come back on the inside going into the second lap - although there was no Hammers advantage with Jablonski grinding to a halt when under pressure from Sitera.
Andersen duly wrapped up his paid maximum in Heat 15 as Jonsson again gave himself too much to do in the early stages - having passed his team-mate, he did make up ground in the closing part of the race, but Andersen always had things under control.
With the high expectations which always exist at Brandon at the start of the season, the 2008 campaign has to go down as a troublesome one - but it is once again one which saw major silverware enter the cabinet, and the Craven Shield to go alongside the Elite League Pairs won by Andersen and Harris in August is at least some reward for all of the effort.
Plans will be made for another Championship assault in 2009, but the team of '08 have kept up the trophy run - all of which looked rather unlikely when they lost 58-34 in the first leg of the Craven Shield semi-final at Poole!
BUILDBASE BEES 58 Hans Andersen 3 2* 3 3 3 = 14+1 Olly Allen 1 3 2* 2* = 8+2 Chris Harris 2* 0 2 2* 0 = 6+2 Billy Janniro 3 1 1* 2 = 7+1 Simon Stead 2* 2 1* 1 = 6+2 Filip Sitera 2* 0 2 1* = 5+2 Ben Barker 3 3 3 3 = 12
LAKESIDE 35 Andreas Jonsson 2 3 6^ 3 2 2 = 18 Leigh Lanham 0 1 2* 0 0 = 3+1 Adam Shields Rider Replacement Jonas Davidsson 0 1 0 1 3 = 5 Tomasz Jedrzejak 0 1 3 1 0 1* = 6+1 Ricky Kling 1 0 0 = 1 Krzysztof Jablonski R 1 1 0 R = 2