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Kent Royals vs Berwick Bullets – Preview
Kent Royals vs Berwick Bullets – Preview

After a gap of over a month since the last home fixture on Easter Sunday, the Kent Royals return to The Old Gun Site tomorrow as Kent take on the Berwick Bullets in the National Development League.

The hosts are looking to gain revenge for the defeat inflicted on them by the Bullets away at Shielfield Park last weekend. Kent currently sit on the bottom of the NDL table having lost their opening three away matches against Mildenhall, Edinburgh and Berwick.

The Royals management promised changes after the defeat at Shielfield and it’s a promise that has been delivered with a new signing and a shuffle of riding order as promoter Si Kellow and manager Jamie Willis look move the side up the table. On the new signing front there will be a debut for Essex born Jack Kingston.

Jack was an original Kent rider in the inaugural season at Central Park but also cut his teeth on the amateur scene at the Iwade circuit so will be hoping to hit the ground running. The riding order has also been re-jigged with captain Tom Woolley moving to the number four berth with Jack slotting in at number three, and the two reserves Connor King and Sam Woolley have been swapped over.

Speaking of the changes manager Jamie Willis said: “We’re looking forward to being back on home soil after a run of away meetings. On Sunday we welcome Jack Kingston into our line-up. He is an experienced NDL rider which will give us some extra firepower.”

The 30-year-old went on to add. “We’d like to thank Joe Alcock for his efforts this season and hope to see him down at Iwade later in the season.” Explaining the decisions behind the reshuffle of the riding order Jamie added, “with the inclusion of Jack we have tinkered with our riding order to try and maximise our chances.”

For our visitors, it is a much-changed line up to the one that beat Kent at Shielfield Park last weekend. Already without long term injury victim Archie Freeman, who sustained a broken leg just seconds into his first race of the campaign, Berwick will operate the Rider Replacement facility for Archie.

Now the Bullets have completed four matches it’s seen their team line-up change with Mason Watson joining Josh Embleton in the reserve berth. Sadly, neither of the duo can take their place at The Old Gun Site. Embleton suffered burns to his leg in the meeting at Belle Vue and has reopened the scarring whereas Mason Watson who also was injured in the meeting at The National Speedway Stadium, suffered a hand injury in last weekend’s clash at Berwick, laying his bike down to avoid the incident between Danny Phillips and Nathan Ablitt.

Coming into the side are two unattached riders with familiar faces, 2022 Kent Royal and Iwade track specialist Chris Watts and returning to the sport after racing for the Kent Kings in 2014 (alongside current number 1 Ben Morley) Jason Garrad. Leading the line-up for Berwick is another member of the inaugural Kent side, Devon born Connor Coles who doubles up in 2023 with the senior Berwick side in the SGB Championship.

Coles is joined by fellow heat leaders Danny Phillips and Greg Blair leading the charge for the Bullets. Blair was unbeaten in the clash at Berwick last weekend. Completing the line up for Berwick is another of the Kent class of ‘22 Jamie Halder.

Jamie began his career with the Coventry Storm back in 2015. Jamie has been unlucky with injuries in his career, both his 2019 and 2021 seasons were lost due to injuries and last season was also curtailed. This season though Jamie has started in very impressive form.

After the Kent v Berwick National League fixture there will be a second half which will feature five riders competing in an individual competition. Two Kent regulars Chris Watts and James Laker are in action alongside Vinny Smith, Sam Peters and Josh Couzins.

Line Ups in alphabetical order:

Kent Royals: Nathan Ablitt, Connor King, Jack Kingston, Ben Morley, Rhys Naylor, Sam Woolley, Tom Woolley (Capt.)

Berwick Bullets:  Greg Blair (Capt.), Connor Coles, Archie Freeman (R/R), Jason Garrad, Jamie Halder, Danny Phillips, Chris Watts.