Eastbourne discovered just how big the task will be to win this year’s National League when they lost 57 – 33 at Mildenhall on Sunday (September 2) afternoon.
The Suffolk side have been virtually everyone’s top tip to win the 2018 championship.
They have set a hot pace in the league from the off and are well clear at the top.
However, the title is decided by the end-of-season Play Offs between the top four teams.
Despite the defeat, Eastbourne are still on course to reach the shoot-out.
Forman IT Eagles team manager Connor Dugard said: “This was as tough as we expected it to be.
“There’s no mistaking it was a hard afternoon for the boys. We just could not get everyone going consistently and they were usually faster than us out of the traps.”
Fen Tigers: Josh Bailey 13(5) Drew Kemp 10(4), Matt Marson 10(5), Danny Ayres 8+1(5), Ryan Kinsley 6+1(4), Jordan Jenkins 5+3(4), Sam Bebee 5+2(4) – 57
Eagles: Mark Baseby 11(5), Jason Edwards 5+1(5), Georgie Wood 5(4), Tom Brennan 5(4), Ethan Spiller 4+1(5), Charley Powell 2+2(4),l Charlie Brooks 1(3) – 33
Next action for the Eagles is AWAY next weekend at Stoke (Saturday) and Buxton (Sunday).
Next home match on September 125 against Stoke and then the Isle of Wight in a double header. The first meeting starts at 7pm.
Here’s how Kevin Ling saw the match unfold at West Row.
Fen Tigers: 1 Danny Ayres, 2 Ryan Kinsley, 3 Josh Bailey, 4 Jordan Jenkins, 5 Drew Kemp, 6 Matt Marson 7 Sam Bebee
Eagles: 1 Georgie Wood, 2 Jason Edwards, 3 Mark Baseby, 4 Charley Powell, 5 Tom Brennan, 6 Ethan Spiller, 7 Charlie Brooks
The start of the match has been delayed to waiting for paramedics who had been caught up in football traffic.
Eagles win toss and take 2 and 4 in heat one.
1 Fine gate by both fen tigers who nipped sharply out to lead – Ayres away and gone – Wood eased past Edwards down back straight and put pressure on Kinsley but locked up slightly bend four, lap two, leaving the home pair to claim a comprehensive opening 5-1 time 51.6
2 Marson all the way, Bebee riding around both Brooks and Spiller on first two turns – result in little doubt from then on in – Brooks pulling up towards the end. Early signs not good for the Eagles, a second successive 5-1 conceded, they now trail 10-2 Time 54.3
3 Called back – Bailey warned to remain stationary. Restart – fine gate from Baseby – he leads all the way with Bailey in hot pursuit – Jenkins back in third well clear of Powell but at least Eagles have chalked up a heat win 3-3, 13-5 time 52.9
4 Kemp well in control claiming a comfortable gate to flag win – Brennan eased past Bebee down back straight of lap one but no way in for Brooks, 4-2, 17-7, time 52.4
5 Great race between Bailey and Wood throughout – the verdict going the way of the home rider – Edwards rode a good race to keep Jenkins at bay, 3-3 ,20-10 time 52.6
6 Kinsley led from the off – spiller tucked in second and for a time led Ayres – not for too long though as the home number one swept through on third turn of lap 2 to bank another Fen Tigers 5-1 – Tom Brennan never really in contention and pulled up in the latter part, 5-1, 25-11 time 52.8
7 Baseby put pressure on Kemp in the early part but the home hot-shot quickly established control down the back straight of lap one – Powell did manage to contain Marson however; 3-3 was the score, 28-14, overall time 53.0
8 Reserve switch. Spiller for Brooks. Finally a yay moment for the visitors as Edwards and Spiller trap together leaving Kinsley and Bebee trailing – Edwards continues for a superb win and Spiller rides a corker to peg Kinsley in third, 1-5, 29-19 time 53.2
9 Bailey and Jenkins strike back immediately easing clear of Spiller and Brennan down the back straight of lap one . Spiller close in third for a time with Tom – not the best of days for him, bringing up the rear. Spiller suffers engine failure at tail end of lap four, leaving Brennan to come through to take third, 5-1 34-20 ,time 54.0
10 Kinsley excluded for tape touching. Replaced by Marson. Ayres was the victim of a hotly contested first turn and he comes down. I’ll admit I was expecting a restart with all four but referee Christina Turnbull ruled out the Mildenhall man – rerun with three riders only. Second rerun and Marson has the home fans in raptures as he gates to leave both Baseby and Powell trailing – he comes home for the win to rich applause, the 3-3 safeguarding the hosts 14-point lead which now stands at 37-23, time 54.4
11 Action resumes after an interval with a third successive win for Kemp. Marson again looked set to be the home hero as he led both Edwards and Wood – the final half lap saw this alter as Wood sped round the outside to take second place on the run in, Edwards own effort to go through on the inside just failing to bear fruit, 4-2 41-25 time 54.0
12 Hosts move further ahead with their fifth 5-1 of the afternoon – Bailey led throughout and Bebee emphasised the Fen Tigers strength in depth as he contained the ever pressing Baseby in third. On this occasion Spiller failed to figure but, no matter, still plenty to come from him 5-1, 46-26, time 54.6
13 Closely fought heat 13 went the way of Ayres who led all the way – Wood and Brennan held the minor places for a time but Kemp worked his way through – he caught Wood but Brennan held firm and so ended the Mildenhall riders’ final maximum hopes – of scant consolation however as the resultant 4-2 saw the hosts hit the half century mark – the score now 50-28 time 54.8
14 Marson and Jenkins leapt our this time. Powell applying the pressure until on the second bend of lap two he spun around and fell leaving the way clear for the hosts to secure a further 5-1 and an overall 55-29 lead time 55.6
15 Ayres r, Bailey b, Baseby w, Edwards y – Mildenhall take 1 and 3. Good race shaping up with Baseby and Ayres passing and repassing – no quarter asked or given – the final lap saw Ayres take Baseby’s front wheel away thus earning him a deserved exclusion – race awarded to Baseby (who was quickly on his feet) Bailey taking second with Edwards third eagles 4-2 to finish, 57-33 no time