HAMMERS saw their Elite League play-off final aspirations dashed at Arlington on Monday evening despite a determined performance.
The final scoreline was flattering to the home side, who now face Poole in the final after the Pirates put Ipswich Stars to the sword by an aggregate score of 108-75.
Monday’s match-up at Arlington was much closer than the result suggests and the Eagles didn’t finally kill off the battling Hammers until heat 14 when Lewis Bridger claimed victory.
Coming in with a one-point advantage from the home leg, Lakeside had fought back from a 10-point deficit after heat seven, getting within six of their rivals thanks to a pair of victories from Peter Ljung.
But, just as it seemed the contest was back in the balance, Bjarne Pedersen found his best form when his team needed him the most.
The Dane took victory in heat 10 to open up a double-digit gap again and although the Hammers hit back with a 5-1 in the next, they were never quite able to get themselves on level terms.
Pedersen led home team-mate Jonas Kylmakorpi in the 13th race and then Bridger booked the Eagles a south-coast showdown with the Pirates by triumphing in the penultimate heat.
“Full credit to Lakeside, they pushed us close tonight,” said Eastbourne manager Trevor Geer. “It was a great meeting and I’m really looking forward to the final.
“I think we will push them the Pirates at Arlington in the first leg, then we will have to hope we can pull out something special at Poole.”
Eastbourne had been given a great start by skipper Cameron Woodward, who enjoyed successive heat victories on his way to a 16-point haul.
Hammers will be looking to bounce back with victory in their Knock-out Cup semi-final first leg against Belle Vue on Friday, with the second leg in Manchester next Wednesday.