Fen Tigers open up big advantage
Only a cataclysmic downfall will prevent the Mildenhall Fen Tigers from reaching this year’s National League play-off final after they defeated the Kent Kings 61-29 in the opening leg of their semi-final on Friday, writes Graham Clark.
Having turned Mildenhall Stadium into a fortress this season, the West Row-based outfit once again produced another polished performance in front of their home fans to establish a 32-point lead to take down to Central Park on Monday for the return leg.
An opening heat 4-2 from guest number one Ben Morley and Jordan Jenkins set the tone for what was to be a long night for the Kings and a successful one for the hosts.
Back-to-back 5-1s in spearheaded by Ryan Kinsley in heat three and Drew Kemp in heat four pushed the Fen Tigers into a 10-point lead, which was to stand at 16 points entering heat eight, thanks to two more heat wins gained by the aforementioned pair.
The Kings momentarily hit back with a 4-2 of their own in heat eight, but it wasn’t long before the Fen Tigers were bagging more big points with Kinsley and captain Jenkins claiming a 5-1 in heat nine, a score which was repeated by Kemp and Matt Marson in heat 11.
Despite holding a commanding lead there was no let up from the Fen Tigers as Kinsley, having executed a smart pass on Nathan Stoneman, captured a 4-2 with Sam Bebee in heat 12, before Kemp, with race win number four, helped clinch a 5-1 with Morley in heat 13.
There was still time for Jenkins to chip in with a victory in the penultimate heat, which fronted a 4-2, which was also to be the outcome delivered by the fast-starting Kemp and Kinsley in the finale to put the Fen Tigers within touching distance of the final.
“We said before the meeting we would like to leave with a double figure lead and the next thing you know we have come away with a 32 point lead,” said reserve star Marson, who scored a paid 10 total.
“We just treated it as a new league and said that all the other previous meetings against them didn’t matter so let’s get going.
“I always seem to turn it on when the pressure is on. It just seems to happen that way but I’ve got good back up behind me.
“We know they are going to be tough there and that was the whole idea of having the home leg first to try get a lead. We’ve just got to make sure we keep it up now.”
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 61: B Morley (g) 9+2, J Bailey r/r, R Kinsley 14+1, J Jenkins 10+2, D Kemp 17, M Marson 8+1, S Bebee 3+1.
Kent Kings 29: G Wood (g) 3, A Rowe 6, N Stoneman 7, T Hampshire 3, J Thomas 3, J Couzins 1+1, A Spooner 6.