After six month of the 2013 season, the Newcastle Sapphire Engineering Diamonds enter the most important phase of their campaign this week – Championship Play-Off matches.
Tonight they travel to the Redcar Bears in their first Premier League Title Play-Off group match in a triumvirate including the Somerset Rebels.
Newcastle play the Bears and Rebels home and away with the top team of the three in the mini-league going on to meet the winners from Ipswich, Edinburgh and Workington to battle home and away for the League Championship.
Redcar manager Jitendra Duffill is hoping strength in depth plays a part taking on local rivals Newcastle at the South Teest Motorsports Park.
Tonight’s clash after a nervous period of a month without a league meeting during which time their top-six place came under threat.
Duffill said: “Luckily most of the team have been riding elsewhere in the enforced break and are delighted that they have at least four extra matches as a reward for their efforts across the season.
“There is no doubt that we have drawn a tough group, but all the better for the paying public. The matches will be close and with Max Dilger returning to the side, he forms a strong reserve partnership with Carl Wilkinson and that could prove vital.”
Newcastle’s counterpart George English is also hoping for a good start to the Play-offs
“Last year we finished top of the League and then fell foul of the play-offs so we missed out on a League Championship,” he said.
“But this year we’ve finished third and aim to make up for our missing cup from 2012.
“We have to do well against our local rivals and make the most of our local knowledge and 2013 record as the other side in our group is Somerset.
They are a side we’ve had a few tough matches with and we know that will be a real challenge in our quest to get into the Final.”
Tonight’s match starts at Redcar at 7.30pm before the Diamonds then turn their attentions to the League Cup Final second leg at Brough Park on Sunday.
That at 6.30pm against the Ipswich Witches, who lead by 12 in the two legged final.
REDCAR BEARS: Max Dilger, Micky Dyer, Matej Kus, Hugh Skidmore, Ulrich Ostergaard, Aaron Summers (Captain), Carl Wilkinson
NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS: Richie Worrall, Stuart Robson - rider replacement, Andrew Tully, Ludvig Lindgren, Anton Rosen, Chris Schramm, Lewis Kerr