On a thrilling night's racing on Monday night at Smallmead Stadium the Reading Bulldogs raced to a comfortable 55-37 victory over the Lakeside Hammers, which moves the Bulldogs up to third place in the Sky Sports Elite League table.

Greg Hancock had one of his best night's of the season for the Bulldogs scoring 12 (paid 14) and the Reading skipper had some good back up from Matej Zagar 12 and Sam Simota 10 (paid 11), in what was a good all-round team display.

For the Hammers Krzystof Kasprzak was in good form scoring 14 and guest Dean Barker was next best with 8.

Reading team manager Jim Lynch was pleased with the result, he said afterwards: "It was a very good team performance. The Hammers are a very strong team on their own track. That is why you need to make your own home advantage count and this is the sort of lead you need to take to their place in the return match."

When the racing got underway the Bulldogs got off to a cracking start to go 10-2 up after two races and, then Zagar came from behind against Kasprzak to win a shared heat 3.

Adams Shields earned the Hammers a share of the points on his way to winning heat 4, but the visitors reduced the arrears to 18-12 with a 4-2 in heat 5.

Leigh Lanham was a surprise winner of heat 6 ahead of Janusz Kolodziej and Hancock and, with heats 7 and 8 shared at three-apiece, it made the progressive score 27-21 at the half-way stage of the meeting.

Zagar won the battle on the first bend against Shields to win heat 9 and, with Mark Lemon beating Paul Hurry for third place, the ensuing Bulldogs 4-2 put them further in front at 31-23.

Four more from Hancock and Kolodziej in heat 10 made it 35-25 and, then Danny Bird had a good win over Barker (tactical ride) and Shields in heat 11. That resulted in a Lakeside 5-3, so the Reading lead was reduced to eight-points (38-30).

Heat 12 was the race of the night. Zagar got bulked at the start, but blasted past Kasprzak and Lanham as the riders entered the second lap and, Simota then tracked Lanham for three laps before passing the Lakeside rider on the last bend to clinch the third place and a Reading 4-2.

Travis McGowan and Hancock then raced to a 5-1 in heat 13 and a 4-2 from Simota and Bird in heat 14 made it 51-35 going into the final race of the night.

Hancock won heat 15 and Kasprzak just managed to hold off a determined Zagar for second place with Shields bringing up the rear. The last heat 4-2 now gives the Bulldogs a 55-37 lead to defend in the return fixture in Essex in June.

The Reading Bulldogs now have an eleven day break before their next Elite League match, which is against Poole Pirates on Friday 4th May at Smallmead Stadium (8.00pm).



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