If they made a film of this Play Off Semi Final at West Row on Sunday (16th. October) they’d be tempted to title it something along of the lines of the biggest massacre since the guy with the Chain Saw went on the rampage in Texas (not the DIY Superstore!). But maybe, in gentler frame of mind, how about ‘Luke Who’s Talking Two’? As this most emphatic of wins, taking the Mildenhall Fen Tigers {proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery) into the National Development League Grand Final saw the two Lukes (home debutant Harrison & fellow reserve Muff) both record their first ever maximums in team Speedway.

This was the purr-fect tonic for the Fen Tigers after the disappointment the evening before at Leicester (going down to a heavy reverse in the first leg of the Knock-out Cup Final), absolutely crushing a hapless Berwick Bullets outfit, who clearly had packed only blanks for their visit to the Fens.

All of the homesters recorded double figure scores and an astonishing ELEVEN maximum 5-1 heat advantages were chalked up, included a run of seven in a row, to see Mildenhall to their biggest home win in over a decade.

The two sides (who’d finished second and third in the NDL table) went into this second leg of the Play Offs separated by just three points, after Mildenhall had narrowly lost 43-46 up in the Scottish Borders the previous weekend.

15-year-old Luke Harrison had been a star of that showing in his first ever senior match - on this, his home debut, he went stellar blasting away some very experienced competitors in the Berwick line up to record an awesome, unchallenged full 12 points maximum.

Those in his wake included a former NDL title winner and GB Young International, Kyle Bickley and the accomplished Luke Crang plus a rider he’d encountered previously in the GP3 world youths, Ace Pijper. There was only one ace today though and it was the youngster proudly wearing the Fen Tigers’ race jacket.

Second billing (but only just behind) went to namesake and fellow North Yorkshireman, Luke Muff. The hugely popular Muff brought the house down with some of the best racing of his career – anchoring 5-1s behind Harrison and ‘Guest’ Danny Phillips in his first two rides; holding Bickley at bay in a breath-taking heat 8; and then coming from behind to complete a full house of paid wins in heat 12.

The two Lukes had got the 5-1 ball rolling in heat two and by the de facto half way point of heat 8, the tie was effectively over as a contest with the aggregate score, 79-57. That memorable Muff moment in heat 8 was the third of what was a mid-meeting super seven 5-1s in a row to entirely break the spirit of the visitors; Josh Warren’s brilliant on the line pass to overhaul Crang in the next race being the final straw for the beleaguered visitors.

Mathematical certainty was then applied when, appropriately, a Jason Edwards and Phillips 5-1 in heat 11 made the score on the afternoon a mammoth 51-14.

When Berwick captain (and scorer of exactly half their total of points) Bickley finally managed to break the run of full houses in heat 13, it was unlucky for Phillips, denied his own paid maximum but was nothing in terms of halting the steam roller: Harrison racing away to complete his 12 points from four rides in heat 14.

The final score was 67-22 on the day (the biggest win by the hosts at West Row since September 2003) and a record aggregate win in an NDL Play Off semi-final of 110-68.

15-year-old Harrison was of course in exuberant mood,

“It feels absolutely fantastic to get a maximum on my home debut – this week and last week at Berwick has been a great way to get my NDL career started.

“Last week was on a track I’d ridden a lot as a youth rider of course, so it was great to bring the confidence I gained from that into today’s meeting. I’d ridden Mildenhall before a couple of times at 250cc but this was my first time here on the 500cc. “

The very-level headed youngster sees how the structure he has gone through in the GB Youth system has helped him,

“I’ve progressed through riding at 125cc, 250cc and now 500cc levels and it has taught me a lot”

In the understatement of the day, the 2021 GB 250cc champion said,

“I’m not afraid to go fast – it was good to be beating some experienced and top riders at this level like Kyle (Bickley).  I’m so happy to be involved with Mildenhall and contributing to the team’s pursuit of the Play Off title. These two meetings have really boosted my confidence and I’m looking forward to the Final now”.

Unfortunately the vagaries of the rulings around using unallocated riders such as Harrison mean the teenager, now the youngest at 15 years and 123 days to score a maximum for the Suffolk side, is available for the away leg of that Final, against Leicester (date to be confirmed) but can’t be in next Sunday’s home meeting which will be a double header against the East Midlanders: taking on the Lion Cubs in the Play Off Final First Leg and then completing the KOC Final with the second leg of that tie.

The Fen Tigers have been left with a fair bit to do in the latter after tumbling to a 55-29 defeat in the first leg at Leicester on Saturday (15/10). But having shown such phenomenal scoring form against Berwick, there’s got to be a level of optimism now that the 26 points lead isn’t one that is unassailable.

That double header of two Finals is next Sunday at Mildenhall Speedway on Sunday 23rd. October – an earlier start time of 2pm with the Grand Final followed by the KOC Final: admission is £25, concessions £22.

NDL Play Off Semi-Final – Second Leg – Sunday 16th. October 

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 67 [110]
Jason Edwards   3, 2’, 3, 3, 3                   = 14+1 [PM]
Rider Replacement - James Shanes          = 9+1
Josh Warren      1, 3, F/X, 2’, 3, 2             = 11+1
Alex Spooner     2’, 2, 3, 3, 2’, F                = 12+2
Danny Phillips (G)  3, 2’, 2’, 2’, 1               = 10+3
Luke Harrison    3, 3, 3, 3                        = 12 [M]
Luke Muff            2’, 2’, 2’, 2’                    = 8+4 [PM]

Berwick Bullets 22 [68]
Kyle Bickley        2, 3, 1, R, 2, 3                = 11
Rider Replacement - Greg Blair
Ace Pijper           1, 1, 1, R                       = 3
Ben Rathbone   0, 0, F, 1, 1                       = 2
Luke Crang          0, 1, 1, 1, F, T/X             = 3
Kieran Douglas 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1                   = 3
Mason Watson F, F, F/X, 0                         = 0

Heat details
1 Edwards, Bickley, Warren, Crang 51.6   [4-2]  {47-48}
2 Harrison, Muff, Douglas, Watson (fell ) 52.1  [9-3]  {52-49}
3 Warren, Spooner, Pijper, Rathbone 53.4  [14-4]  {57-50}
4 (stpd; awarded) Phillips, Muff, Crang, Watson (fell)  no time  [19-5]
5 (rerun twice; stpd; awarded} Bickley, Spooner, Watson (fell), Warren (fell exc.) no time  [21-8] {64-54}
6 Spooner, Edwards, Crang, Douglas 52.9  [26-9]  {69-55}
7 Harrison, Phillips, Pijper, Rathbone 52.6  [31-10]  {74-56}
8 Edwards, Muff, Bickley, Watson 51.8  [36-11]  {79-51}
9 Spooner, Warren, Crang, Douglas 53.6  [41-12]  {84-58}
10 Edwards, Phillips, Pijper, Rathbone (fell) 52.0  [46-13]  {89-59}
11 Harrison, Phillips, Rathbone, Bickley (ret.) 53.5 [51-14]  {94-60}
12 Warren, Muff, Douglas, Pijper (ret.) 54.6  [56-15]  {99-61}
13 (rerun; stpd; awarded) Edwards, Bickley, Phillips, Crang (exc. tapes; 15 m. handicap; fell) no time [60-17]  {103-63}
14 Harrison, Spooner, Rathbone, Douglas 53.1  [65-18] {108-64}
15 (rerun; stpd; awarded)  Bickley, Warren, Douglas, Spooner (fell), Crang (exc. tapes) no time  [67-22]  {110-68}

NDL Knock-out Cup Final – First Leg, Saturday October 15th

Leicester Lion Cubs 55

 Dan Thompson 12 [M]
Max Perry          4+2
Connor Coles     10
Tom Spencer      4
Joe Thompson   11+1 [PM]
Vinnie Foord       7
Mickie Simpson  7+2

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 29
Jason Edwards    8
R/R - Jack Kingston
Josh Warren       7+1
Alex Spooner      4
Lee Complin (G)  4
James Laker        1+1
Luke Muff            5+1
James Jessop (no. 8)       DNR

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