As starts to a league season go this would be hard to better as the ‘KJM/Manchetts’ Fen Tigers made a statement of intent to the National League with a fine win at rivals Cradley.

The opening heat saw fast starting guest Dan Bewley decimate the field clocking a time .75 seconds outside the track record with a ride of skill and style beyond the 17 year olds tender years! With the improving Luke Ruddick battling to secure 3rd place the Fen Tigers were up and running. An unfortunate coming together between Jordan Jenkins and Sam Woods in Heat two when on a clear 5-1 saw young Jenkins excluded and the re-run saw the reverse scenario as the Heathens took a 7-5 advantage.

Captain Jon Armstrong restored the balance with a classy ride in Heat three and with Dan Greenwood excluded after a nasty looking crash, which he thankfully walked away from, Danno Verge tucked into third  to bring the scores level.

After a Cradley 4-2 in Heat four, Bewley stepped up the pace with another sensational gate that saw him just .25 seconds outside the track record even though he eased off coming off the last bend! With a fine ride from Ruddick to beat Greenwood it was 15-15 after five races. Another fine win from Armstrong and a Heat Eight 3-3 when Ruddick and Jenkins tucked in behind Connor Dwyer left the Fen Tigers a point to the good after eight races 23-24. Heats nine and ten saw 4-2’s exchanged before the Fen Tigers ramped up the pressure. Another Bewley masterclass in Heat eleven left the match poised at 32-33, then Fen Tigers Team Manager made the decisive move bringing in Jenkins as a replacement in Heat twelve. The youngster had experienced a tough start to his evening but with support from his team mates and some words of wisdom from Jon Armstrong, Jenkins made a fine start and with Armstrong again revealing the sometimes lost art of team riding the Cradley pairing could make no impression and suddenly the Fen Tigers were five points ahead with three races to go!

With Bewley sandwiched between Danny Ayres and Tom Perry in Heat thirteen this looked the youngsters most difficult assignment of the evening, but as the tapes rose the youngster was again quickly out in front and pulled away from the field for another decisive win. A super race between Luke Harris and Jenkins in Heat 14 saw the Cradley rider gain a fine victory but the two points from Jenkins meant anything but a 5-1 against in Heat fifteen and the Fen Tigers had the victory. It was one of Robert Henry’s easier decisions to put the unbeaten Bewley and Armstrong in Heat fifteen and for the fifth time a lightning start from Bewley left no doubt where the points were going, a fine race between Ayres and Armstrong as the two passed and repassed each other saw Ayres get the better of his opponent off the final bend but a 3-3 was not enough and the Fen Tigers side of the pits erupted!

Team Manager Robert Henry was full of praise for all his team, he said “Make no mistake this was a fine effort from the lads, Danno had a difficult time but everyone worked together and supported each other and with Jon leading the side with such passion and commitment we always held the upper hand. This is the team spirit we also saw Sunday and now it must be how we go about our work every meeting. The results are clear to see when we are a tight unit and the buzz in our side of the pits was brilliant.

Of course we must thank young Dan Bewley for as good a performance as you are likely to see from a guest. The young man is a rare talent and it was a pleasure to have him with us tonight. We will enjoy the moment but keep our feet firmly on the ground, it is very early days but if we keep this level of performance up we should enjoy a fine season”

Tom Perry 10+1 (5 rides), Danny Ayres 8+1 (5), Luke Harris 8 (4), Ryan Burton 7+1 (4), Dan Greenwood 4 (4), Joe Lawlor 3+1 (4), Conor Dwyer 3 (4)

Dan Bewley 15 (5 rides), Jon Armstrong 11+1 (5), Jordan Jenkins 7+1 (6), Sam Woods 4+1 (3), Daniel Halsey 4 (4), Luke Ruddick 4 (4), Danno Verge 1 (3)