Tom Brennan hopes patience and discipline pay off as he gets stuck into an overdue big season.

The 19-year-old rising star from Hassocks led the way as Eastbourne Eagles took charge of their Knockout Cup tie against Kent.

But their 58-32 victory in the first leg at Arlington yesterday came at a price.

They lost skipper Lewis Kerr with a suspected broken collarbone after a high speed crash in Heat 9.

That will increase the responsibility on Brennan, who was a a big part of the flying start which saw Eagles open with four 5-1s and lead by 22 from Heat 7.

Brennan’s 2019 season was cut very short by a broken leg and associated complications and the 2020 campaign was almost totally wiped out for everyone by Covid.

He said: “I was stuck on the sidelines for 2019 but I looked after my nutrition – although, I’ve got to admit, that can go south sometimes!

“But, for me, it was trying to keep my head down and try to keep focus and it wasn’t easy, more mentally than physically.

“I’m so happy to be back out there and thanks to everyone for the support.”

Brennan has looked quick and smooth so far this season and his opening average of 5.90 is set to increase.

He began yesterday with three wins and denied Kent a 5-1 in Heat 15 when he passed Paul Starke to take second while chasing winner Scott Nicholls.

Eagles had a big advantage at reserve as Drew Kemp was paid for 11.

As can be the case on sunny Sunday afternoons, the meeting was long-winded and lacked momentum.

Ironically, the highlight came in the race in which Kerr was injured.

Kyle Newman had done very well to hang on wide on the outside to lead when his team-mate hit the air fence n bends three and four.

In the re-run, Newman bided his time before easing inside Ben Morley at the end of lap three.

The second leg takes place on July 6.

Eagles: Brennan 13 (5), Lawson 11 (5), Kemp 9+2 (5), Newman 7+3 (4), Edwards 7+2 (4), Kennett 6+3 (4), Kerr 5 (3).

Kent: Nicholls 12 (5), Starke 10 (5), Nicol 3+1 (4), Morley 3 (5), Thomas 2+1 (4), Hurry 2 (4), Bacon 0 (3).