Schlein is proving a real wizard from Oz
PAnthers ................. 51 LAKeside................... 42
THE great Jason Crump used to be dubbed the ‘Thunder from Down Under’. On last night’s evidence Rory Schlein must be the lightning.
Schlein produced arguably the ride of the season as Panthers underlined their play-off credentials by putting on a show for the Sky TV cameras.
The recent loan capture from Coventry shone with a stunning heat 12 overtaking manoeuvre as the city men completed a home double over the second-placed Hammers this month.
Schlein scythed through the tiniest of gaps between Lakeside men Stuart Robson and Joonas Kylmakorpi in a bold back-straight move to hit the front and take a win that carried his side a step closer to a ninth successive home triumph this term.
“I saw the gap and went for it,” said Schlein. “Hopefully the fans enjoyed it. It was a good feeling for me!”
And Schlein wasn’t done there. He returned to the track with a third place behind talisman Kenneth Bjerre in the finale to wrap up maximum points. He finished with an 11-point haul which was not to be sneezed at from a rider suffering from a bad bout of hayfever.
And countryman Troy Batchelor wasn’t bad either. The big winter signing admits he can’t stand riding in the number two position but paid 10 points might just change his mind.
Batchelor even had the edge over partner and resident Showground flying machine Bjerre in heat six and was only denied a paid maximum by a third place in his final outing in heat 10.
But Bjerre did succeed in that department with another imperious performance around his Alwalton stomping ground earning him a 14+1-point full house.
Bjerre’s now traditional trackrecord tilt in the opening race provided a rapid start to proceedings, even though he clocked a time one tenth of a second outside his newlyset 58.5 second best.
His only real alarm came in heat 13 when he had to roar past former Panthers number one Lee Richardson, but just as Hans Andersen and Peter Karlsson found out on Friday, the present is superior to the past.
Skipper Niels Kristian Iversen came home third in that race to claim a 4-2 that ensured Panthers’ unbeaten home record would continue, but it completed a somewhat disappointing night for a rider who finished with only paid six and uncharacteristically failed to win a single heat.
Another man a little short of his best was Krzysztof Buczkowski. The spectacular Pole followed home Schlein for a processional maximum in heat three but it wasn’t un- til the penultimate contest when he was seen to good effect again.
That’s when Buczkowski embarked on an adventure to all corners of the Showground to charge from last to second.
He was so wide that he spent most of the race in Orton Southgate, but also regularly had his front wheel over the centre green grass. His radical lines paid off though as he collared Stuart Robson within the shadow of the post.
There were also minor problems at reserve where Mat Tresarrieu followed up another heat two triumph with three last places and Norbert Kosciuch again didn’t look completely comfortable.
But Panthers, who were briefly knocked out of their comfort zone by an 8-1 tactical ride triumph from the visitors in heat seven, always appeared to have matters in hand.
It was only fitting that Bjerre and Schlein finished the job in the final race. A good night’s work leaves Panthers only four points adrift of their victims and makes seizing second place in the not-too-distant future a real possibility.
SUPERB DISPLAY: Rory Schlein, pictured en route to victory in heat three, really turned on the style for Panthers last night.
Picture: ALAN STORER