Reading's big guns of Danny Bird and Matej Zagar both scored maximums, as the Euphony Racers overcome Newport Wasps 54-41 in this Premier Trophy clash at Smallmead Stadium on Monday night.

Bird scored a 14 [paid 15] maximum from 5 rides and Zagar went unbeaten with 12 from his 4 starts, but it was a solid performance from Reading that saw them beat their M4 rivals from South Wales.

Reading had to overcome a slow start which saw them actually trailing 14-10 after four heats. Things looked to be getting even tougher for the Racers, with reserve Chris Mills having to withdraw from the meeting after just one ride with a re-occurance of his knee injury in heat two. This put extra pressure on Jamie Westacott, with the 16-year-old having to take a total of 7 rides on his Reading debut, and although it didn't probably reflect in his final total (3 paid 4) made some good starts and gave a good account of himself throughout.

Zagar was involved in probably the race of the season so far in heat four. The Slovenian was slow from the start and was second to Newport's top man Craig Watson, and tried inside and outside for the full four laps, before taking the Australian right on the chequered flag for a memoreable win.

Euphony Racers levelled the scores with a 5-1 in heat five from Phil Morris and Chris Schramm, but Andrew Appleton brought the house down with probably the race of his season so far, when he took Watson on the final bend of the last lap to join team-mate Bird for 5-1 which put the home side 20-16 in front.

Heats seven and eight were shared, before 5-1's in the next two races increased Euphony Racers lead to 36-24 after ten heats.

Newport staged a mini fight-back in the next two heats with a 5-3 and a 6-3 courtesy of the double points tactical ride rule. Zagar and Bird thenn resumed normal service with a 5-1 over Watson and Mads Korneliussen in heat thirteen, to put the Smallmead men 47-36 in front with just two heats remaining.

Morris won the penultimate heat ahead of Kaukko Nieminen and Karl Mason, and Bird and Appleton sealed the match for the Euphony Racers with a 4-2 over Watson and Korneliussen in the final heat to complete a 54-41 victory.

The end result was a welcome one for Reading, and despite trailing by four points early on the Racers always looked comfortable winners on a track that provided some exciting racing. Speed was the name of the game for the home side, with both Bird and Zagar clocking winning times under 60 seconds.

Bird and Zagar will probably take the headlines with their maximums, but Appleton 9 (paid 11) and Morris (paid 10) from 4 rides gave excellent support.

Newport had to rely on their guest Nieminen 11 and Korneliussen 9 (paid 10) for the bulk of their points, but both had double point rides. The biggest surprise of the night was the fact Wasps Australian captain Craig Watson failed to win a heat, for probably the first time in all of his previous visits to Smallmead.

Reading now head for Isle of Wight on Tuesday night for their final Premier Trophy match [7.30pm]. The match is one must almost certainly win if they hope to make the Trophy semi-finals, and then sit and wait for other results to go their way in the group.

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