Reading Bulldogs increased their lead at the top of the Sky Sports Elite League, with their second away victory in as many days with a 49-44 win at Swindon on Thursday evening.

Reading didn't have it all their own way against the Robins though, as the home side moved into a 23-19 lead after seven heats, but the Bulldogs showed their teeth with a 5-1 in heat 8, before opening up a ten-point advantage with three races to go. The Robins replied with a 7-2 in heat 13, but Reading held their nerve to hold on and inflict Swindon's first home league defeat of the season.

Skipper Greg Hancock led by example with a hard-fought 12 (paid 13), but like so many meetings this season it was very much a solid team effort. Charlie Gjedde enjoyed his visit to his old track with 10 (paid 12) and Andy Smith had one of his best returns of the season with 10 (paid 11).

For Swindon, Leigh Adams scored a faultless 18-point maximum, but the Robins skipper didn't have quite the support he needed, although Seb Ulamek did ride well for his 8 points.

Things got off to an even start with Swindon's top man Adams winning a shared opening heat, but the Robins got their noses in front with Mads Korneliussen and Seb Alden picking up a 4-2 in heat 2.

Gjedde beat Ulamek to win heat 3, and with Matej Zagar passing Renat Gafurov up the inside on the opening lap, the resultant 4-2 saw the Bulldogs level the score up at 9-9.

Hancock defeated Lee Richardson and Korneliussen in a drawn heat 4, but Swindon went back in front when Ulamek and Gafurov raced to a shock 5-1 over Hancock and McGowan in heat 5.

Adams beat Gjedde and Smith in heat 6, and Richardson provided more of the same when defeating Gjedde and Zagar in heat 7. Although Reading did have some good fortune as Alden lifted and fell on the final bend whilst in third place.

The Bulldogs showed plenty of bite when Smith made a superb start to win heat 8, and with McGowan passing Korneliussen up the inside of the second bend, it gave the Smallmead men a 5-1 which levelled things up at 24-24.

Gafurov led Zagar for two laps in heat 9, but the Slovenian pulled off the ride of the night to blast around the outside of the Russian to take the win. Smith beat Ulamek for third place, with the Reading 4-2 putting them into a 28-26 lead.

Adams raced to his third win of the night when he took the chequered flag in a shared heat 10, but the Bulldogs increased their lead to six points when McGowan and Hancock clocked up an impressive 5-1 over Richardson in heat 11.

Smith flew out of the gate to win heat 12, and Gjedde linked up for a 5-1 when he passed both Korneliussen and Gafurov on the first lap. The Reading maximum put them into a 41-31 lead going into the interval.

After the break, with Swindon ten-points in arrears, Robins team manager Alun Rossiter elected for Adams to go out in heat 13 as a tactical ride for double points. When the tapes rose Adams and Richardson were first away, but Hancock pulled off a crucial pass of Richardson on the second lap to split the home pairing. The ensuing Swindon 7-2 pulled the scores back to 43-38 with just two races remaining.

Heat 14 saw Ulamek win, but Simota and Zagar rode a sensible race to keep Alden at the back. So with the race drawn it meant that Reading led 46-41 going into the final heat, thus needing just a finisher in heat 15 to secure another away win.

The large gathering of Reading fans in attendance needn't have worried though, as although Adams completed his maximum with a comfortable tapes-to-flag win, Hancock and McGowan rode around unopposed for second and third, after Ulamek had ground to a halt on the opening lap whilst in last place.

The five-point win over their local rivals keeps the Bulldogs top of the table with 35 points, with Ipswich Witches now moving up to second place with 32 points as a result of their 57-37 home win over Arena Essex on Thursday evening.

Reading are back in Elite League action on Monday night at Smallmead when the Poole Pirates come to town (7.30pm).

 

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