If the Workington Comets Class of 2018 had already written their names into the history books with Thursday night’s Knockout Cup win, they were put in bold, italics and underlined after a surreal demolition of Lakeside earned the club’s first ever league title.

The ease with which they erased the Hammers’ 10-point lead before setting about building their own at Derwent Park gave the result a feeling of inevitability; this was Comets’ year and they weren't going to let it get away from them.

With the tension rising in the crowd of more than 1,000 people who braved the plummeting temperatures, the four riders came to the gates for the opening heat and as the tapes rose a roar exploded from the stands as Rasmus Jensen hit the front with Rene Bach slotting in next to him.

Former Comet Richard Lawson breezed past his team-mate and set about attacking the home duo on the inside line but Bach held him off to earn a big 5-1 which wiped off almost half of the Hammers’ advantage after just four laps.

The visitors threatened to hit back straight away as Ben Morley darted to the front in heat two for Lakeside, but Alfie Bowtell and Mason Campton both span out and hit the track hard to force a rerun with all four riders.

Morley was then handed a 15-metre handicap after he left the gates, seemingly sensing something wrong with his machine, and when he emerged for the rerun he was on Kyle Newman’s bike.

Comets powered away from Bowtell and although the Hammer snapped at their heels it was a fine ride from captain Campton with Kyle Bickley which made sure another 5-1 took Lakeside’s lead down to two points.

The away side weren’t going to surrender their lead without a fight as Newman pipped Jensen and Comets guest Tero Aarnio to the first bend of heat three but Jensen sent the home supporters wild with a classy move around the outside then up the inside of the Lakeside rider while Aarnio did enough to keep third for a 4-2 which levelled the scores on aggregate.

The hosts were ahead after heat four as Nicolai Klindt and Campton continued Comets’ electric starts and Nick Morris could only take second for the Hammers in a 4-2 which left Workington in a strong position but with plenty of speedway left.

Aarnio bolted away from the other three riders in heat five but it was Jensen again who stole the show as he lined up a top-drawer pass to leave Lawson third and exasperated as he crossed the line.

Another dominant 5-1 saw Klindt and Bach give Morris no chance next time out as the visitors watched their side crumple at Derwent Park with their heat leaders failing to fire but there was no room for complacency for Workington.

Klindt was out again in heat seven and he delivered again with a flying start and a controlled race ahead of Adam Ellis to open an early gap while Bickley gave Newman a tough time but couldn’t quite snatch third.

Workington appeared to be in total control of the tie ahead of heat eight with skipper Campton and Bach the men tasked with edging Comets closer to that first league title.

The pair were on a 5-1 leaving the second bend but Lakeside were far from out of it as Zach Wajtknecht had a few goes at the Australian and eventually squeezed into second to restrict Workington to a 4-2 which put them 12 points up with seven to go.

The pressure seemed to be getting to Morris as he went before everyone else in heat nine and was warned ahead of the rerun.

Comets’ great Dane Jensen hit the front and Aarnio followed with Morris nowhere near the duo in another 5-1 for the on-fire home side.

It was hard to avoid the feeling that this would be Comets’ year at last but there was still a job to be done and they produced a professional ride in heat 10 to fill the minor places behind Ellis and maintain their hefty lead.

Klindt gated and was gone in heat 11 but the real drama was at the back as Bickley and Newman traded places and the Comets youngster made third place stick to earn a point which virtually guaranteed the title.

Aarnio and Campton stepped up for one of the most important races in the club’s history and, with a 4-2, secured the first league title since Ian Thomas brought the sport to the town in 1970 and completed a league and cup double.

The riders and promotion flooded onto the track with hugs all over the place and grins spreading throughout the crowd.

Eventually the celebrations had to settle down while the racing was completed and, despite it being a dead rubber, heat 13 proved to be one of the best of the night as all four riders jostled for position in the opening lap but it was Lawson who got the win ahead of Bach and Morris to secure the Hammers’ first heat advantage of the night.

Bickley charged to the front of heat 14 before Jensen rocketed down the back straight to join him as Comets looked to celebrate their title win with a 5-1 before a dramatic conclusion saw a third-bend crash rule Aarnio out of the rerun and left Klindt alone against Lawson and Ellis.

The Dane gated and rode every line seemingly at once to hold off the Hammers pair and win the final race of an unforgettable night.

Workington Comets 61 (95)

1. Rene Bach – 2*, 2*, 3, 1*, 2 = 10+3

2. Ty Proctor R/R

3. Tero Aarnio – 1, 3, 2*, 2, 3, FX = 11+1

4. Rasmus Jensen – 3, 3, 2*, 3, 3 = 14+1

5. Nicolai Klindt – 3, 3, 3, 3, 0, 3 = 15

6. Kyle Bickley – 3, 0, 1, 2* = 6+1

7. Mason Campton – 2*, 1, 1, 1 = 5+1

Lakeside Hammers 29 (73)

1. Richard Lawson – 1, 1, 2, 3, 1* = 8+1

2. Zach Wajtknecht – 0, 0, 2, 0 = 2

3. Adam Ellis – 0, 2, 3, 2, 2 = 9

4. Kyle Newman – 2, 1*, 0, 1 = 4+1

5. Nick Morris – 2, 1, 1, 1 = 5

6. Ben Morley – 0, 0, 0, 0 = 0

7. Alfie Bowtell – 1, 0, 0, 0 = 1

HEAT 1 – Jensen, Bach, Lawson, Wajtknecht – 65.5, 5-1 (39-45)

HEAT 2 (RERUN) – Bickley, Campton, Bowtell, Morley – 68, 5-1, 10-2 (44-46)

HEAT 3 – Jensen, Newman, Aarnio, Ellis – 65.8, 4-2, 14-4 (48-48)

HEAT 4 – Klindt, Morris, Campton, Bowtell – 65.5, 4-2, 18-6 (52-50)

HEAT 5 – Aarnio, Jensen, Lawson, Wajtknecht – 65.7, 5-1, 23-7 (57-51)

HEAT 6 – Klindt, Bach, Morris, Morley – 66, 5-1, 28-8 (62-52)

HEAT 7 – Klindt, Ellis, Newman, Bickley – 66.5, 3-3, 31-11 (65-55)

HEAT 8 – Bach, Wajtknecht, Campton, Bowtell – 67.2, 4-2, 35-13 (69-57)

HEAT 9 (RERUN) – Jensen, Aarnio, Morris, Morley – 66.5, 5-1, 40-14 (74-58)

HEAT 10 – Ellis, Aarnio, Bach, Newman – 66.6, 3-3, 43-17 (77-61)

HEAT 11 – Klindt, Lawson, Bickley, Wajtknecht – 66.9, 4-2, 47-19 (81-63)

HEAT 12 – Aarnio, Ellis, Campton, Morley – 67.1, 4-2, 51-21 (85-65)

HEAT 13 – Lawson, Bach, Morris, Klindt –67.1, 2-4, 53-25 (87-69)

HEAT 14 – Jensen, Bickley, Newman, Bowtell – 68, 5-1, 58-26 (92-70)

HEAT 15 (RERUN) – Klindt, Ellis, Lawson – 67.5, 3-3, 61-29 (95-73)