Saturday April 21, 2012
PANTHERS saw their unbeaten start to the season come to an end at the hands of Eastbourne – but a late fightback at Arlington saw them still come away with a useful away point.

And from 14-points down with five heats to go, that was a positive outcome for the Showground side even though at one stage it looked like they could complete a huge turnaround and snatch victory on the night.

Once again there was a bumper haul of points at reserve from Michael Jepsen Jensen, especially important given Panthers’ lack of available doubling-up riders for the meeting, and skipper Kenneth Bjerre was also back on-song after conceding a 5-1 in Heat 1.

Bjerre lost out to a prolific Lukas Dryml/Edward Kennett combination, and although Jensen won his first two rides Panthers found themselves eight points down as the home side secured another maximum from Heat 3.

The gap was ten after Linus Sundstrom had been penalised for touching the tapes in Heat 6, and when Jepsen Jensen went for double points in Heat 8 he was beaten for the first time by Dryml, who maintained his own unbeaten record.

When Kennett passed Olly Allen to team up with Dryml again in Heat 10, Jesper B Monberg falling on the second bend, Panthers trailed 24-38 and their prospects appeared bleak even though they had a second tactical ride to come.

But the meeting then turned on its head with Bjerre going for double in Heat 11 and pulling off a perfect 8-1 with Jepsen Jensen as they team-rode Lewis Bridger out of contention – and Jepsen Jensen was at it again in Heat 12, this time combining with Allen for a 5-1 as Simon Gustafsson fell.

Suddenly the 14-point deficit had become just three, and Panthers then went into Heat 13 facing just one opponent as Eagles guest Kennett came to grief – but Bridger stepped up for the home side and headed Bjerre and Sundstrom to ease their nerves.

Eastbourne then clinched victory in Heat 14 as Jepsen Jensen for once missed out, being unable to spit Denis Gizatullin and Cameron Woodward, and that left Panthers needing an advantage from the last race to snatch a league point.

And with Bjerre trapping smartly and Sundstrom crucially splitting Bridger and Dryml, the 4-2 was enough to reduce the deficit back to under seven points and ensure Panthers gained some reward for their efforts.

EASTBOURNE 50: Lukas Dryml 10+2, Lewis Bridger 10+1, Edward Kennett 8+1, Cameron Woodward 6+2, Denis Gizatullin 6+1, Timo Lahti 5+1, Simon Gustafsson 5.

PETERBOROUGH 45: Michael Jepsen Jensen 16+2, Kenneth Bjerre 15, Linus Sundstrom 6+1, Olly Allen 6, Jesper B Monberg 2+1, Rohan Tungate 0, Rene Bach r/r.

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