Friday July 26, 2013
Last season, after two legs of the playoff final, these two teams were separated by a single point in their battle for the Premier League title, with Scunthorpe taking the honours on that occasion. This season they have already met once in May, when the ‘Case’s Somerset Rebels’ destroyed the Scorpions on their home shale at the Eddie Wright Raceway. Since then the visitors have added Nicolai Klindt to the line up, in an attempt to bolster their squad.

Both sides were without their respective Number one’s, with both having been claimed by their Elite League side, Birmingham, who had first call over this rearranged fixture. Patrick Hougaard, of the Peterborough Panthers, came into the Rebels line up for Jason Doyle, whilst the Scorpions called on Redcar’s Micky Dyer in place of Josh Auty. The Rebels also saw Stefan Nielsen return to the track, but Tom Perry is still suffering with his shoulder, and his absence was covered by Chris Schramm.

The two guest riders met in Heat 1, and it was Dyer who struck the first blow for the visitors, as he bolted from the gate, with Kyle Newman and Hougaard close up. Newman took up the chase as Hougaard, having his first ever look at the Oak Tree Arena circuit, slotted in behind. Newman challenged on the second turn, but he was beaten off, and on the early damp track, Dyer soon pulled out a winning lead, as the opening heat was shared.

Stefan Nielsen was eager to get back into the swing of things in Heat 2, but just a little too eager, as he hit the tapes before they had risen. Going off 15 metres he made a great start and by the second turn he was on the back wheel of Lewis Blackbird. At the front Ryan Douglas had just got the better of Chris Schramm after the pair broke level. As Douglas held Schramm, the main battle was raging behind the pair as Nielsen was pressing Blackbird hard, as he threw in a strong wide challenge on the first turn of the next lap. Blackbird held him off, but Nielsen redoubled his efforts, and on the next lap he tried again. Coming off the second bend, he looked to have the measure of Blackbird, and moved alongside on the outside as they ran to the back straight. Blackbird slammed the door shut in an extremely hard move, which saw Nielsen make contact the fence, but fortunately he was able to keep control of his machine, but was forced to drop back. The damage was done, and despite not giving up the chase, Nielsen could not get back on terms, and the Scorpions took the heat 2-4.

The following heat was no less contentious, but again it was the Scorpions who benefitted in the end result. Nicolai Klindt jumped at the gate, and cost himself as he stopped the bike moving forwards as the tapes rose. Alex Davies and Ashley Birks took advantage as they led up to the turn together, where Davies moved up the inside top lead off the second bend. Nick Morris moved into second down the back straight, but Birks hit back immediately to regain the place off the final turn. Morris re-challenged inside the first turn of the next lap, but as he moved to pass, Birks appeared to lock up, hit Morris and bring him down, with Morris still on the track and Davies in a long lead; Ronnie Allan hit the red lights, and surprisingly excluded Morris as the cause of the stoppage.

As ‘Sods Law’ dictates, it was the fortunate Birks who took advantage of the stoppage, as he just got the better of Davies on the opening curve of the restart. Once at the head of affairs he easily held the Rebels skipper to the flag, as the Scorpions increased their lead.

A shared heat followed, and to the relief of the home supporters, it was the Rebels who supplied the winner, after seeing three visitors take the chequered flag in the first three heats, and it was none other than last week’s ‘Maximum Man’, Josh Grajczonek who eased to home fans concerns, but he didn’t make it easy for himself. Breaking slowly he was last away, as Chris Schramm contested the lead with David Howe, with the latter taking up the running around the opening turns. Meanwhile Grajczonek was piling on the power, and swallowed up, first Blackbird, and then Schramm down the back straight. Moving out to the wide line, he stormed around the dirt line, and charged around Howe as they came off the last turn, where he made a slight mistake, just getting out of shape. However he was not to be denied, and had the bike under control in a flash, completing the move as he ran back to the line for the first time. The further they went, the further Grajczonek pulled away. With Schramm in third place the Rebels looked to have pulled back 2-points, until Schramm’s machine came round on him as they exited the final turn of the race, and he went down, gifting Blackbird third place.

The Rebels put that reverse right in the next heat, when they took their first heat advantage of the night. Thomas Jorgensen made the best break, leading up from Alex Davies and Nick Morris. As Morris challenged up the inside, Davies took to the dirt, and charged around the outside of the Aalborg man to lead into the back straight. Davies held the lead with ease, until he appeared to slow slightly allowing Jorgensen to close up on the final turn of lap three, but he saw Jorgensen there, and opened up the gap again, to take the win. Davies didn’t appear to have any mechanical problems, and did look behind back, so you could speculate that he was looking for his partner, but realised it was an a opponent, and not Morris who was close up at that point. Morris took third as the Rebels posted a 4-2 win.

That first advantage was quickly followed by another, but not before the race was called back after Ryan Douglas had made an outrageous jump at the tapes, and was fortunate no to touch them. Having said that, by the time the race was stopped, Patrick Hougaard was in a clear lead, and Douglas was going backwards. In the restart Hougaard made a superb gate, and stormed clear, pulling way with every turn of the wheels. Kyle Newman made a shocking gate, and was stone last at the first turn, but as everyone knows, he’s not a quitter, and is a determined character. He set about closing up on the rest of the field, and down the back straight he had David Howe in his sights, and in one fell swoop, he charged through the inside gap left by the Scorpions man, and wound on the gas in pursuit of Douglas. Once he had passed Howe, he moved out to the boards, and over the next two and a half laps he reeled in Douglas. Still out wide he careered down the back straight of the final lap, and around the last two turn he laid down a huge run to storm off the final bend, passing Douglas in the process, and bringing an enormous cheer from the home supporters, as he banked second spot to take a full house of points.

In keeping with what had gone before, the Scorpions kept it tight, and the Rebels could not properly break free, and two more heats were shared. Heat 7 saw the Scunthorpe duo of Ashley Birks and Nicolai Klindt trap on a 5-1, as Josh Grajczonek and Stefan Nielsen made slow starts. Nielsen was the first to respond, moving out to the dirt, and coming with a big run down the back straight that carried him to the head of affairs by the third turn. On lap two Grajczonek had closed up on Klindt, and relegated him to last as they headed into lap three. Whilst Nielsen was heading for home, Birks had other ideas, and was slowly, but surely, closing the gap. He delivered a great challenge on the outside of the final turn of Lap 3, completing the move as they ran across the line to start the final lap. Nielsen, in his first meeting back from injury, had no answer, and although he kept Birks up to his work, he could not get back on terms, and the points were shared.

The Rebels supplied the winner of Heat 8, but again they could not break free of the Scorpions hold, with the points divided equally for a second successive race. Kyle Newman flew from the gates to lead up from the rest of the field, who broke level. Newman sailed around the wide line to establish a good lead into the back straight, whilst Thomas Jorgensen got the better of Lewis Blackbird and Chris Schramm off the second turn. He closed the gap on Newman, but had no real answer to the Weymouth rider’s wide running tactics, and had to make do with playing second fiddle to Newman’s winning performance. Lewis Blackbird took the minor place for the 3-3 result.

The Rebels finally made some more headway in Heat 9, as the posted their second maximum advantage of the night, but not before David Howe had led up from Nick Morris and Alex Davies. As Morris threw in his challenge out wide, Howe tried to block his run, and failed, leaving a mammoth sized gap up the inside, through which Alex Davies cruised, to take up second spot alongside Morris on the back straight. As far as the race went that was it, and the die was cast for the Rebels full house. Howe did close the gap late on, but in truth the Rebels pair were never troubled after the second turn.

Ashley Birks made the gate to lead up in Heat 10, but was soon behind Patrick Hougaard, as the Peterborough rider ran a very wide line around the opening turn to take up the running. Kyle Newman was up the inside of Birks, bit found himself clamped to the second bend kerb. Undeterred he switched wide, and by the same spot on the next lap he was pressing Birks on the outside. Coming with a good run off the turn, he move upsides Birks on the back straight, and was just starting to get the better of the Sheffield born rider, and with both riders deep into the third turn, he took a horrible looking fall, and careered into the safety fence, head first, with his machine coming down on top of him.

There was a long delay as the medical staff tended to Newman, before he was taken from the track in the ambulance, and finally transported to hospital as a precaution. Latest reports are that nothing was broken, and he had suffered no more than a cut to the chin, which required a couple of stitches, and has been advised to take a couple of days rest.

In the re-run, Hougaard came over the top of Birks in the first turn, and that was race over as far as the points were concerned, as with Newman surprisingly excluded from the rerun, the Scorpions took the minor places, with Nicolai Klindt demoting Birks to third on the second lap.

The run of shared heats continued, as Heat 11 went the same way. Micky Dyer just got the break in front of Josh Grajczonek, but the Rebels man ran the better opening bend to lead off the inside of the first turn. Stefan Nielsen recovered from a slow start, and was pressing Thomas Jorgensen by Bend 3. Jorgensen beat him off, but the persistent Nielsen continued to press, and again threw in another challenge at the same point next time round. Nielsen tried every line possible, inside and out, and was all over Jorgensen for the whole race, but could not navigate a route into third place, as the sixth shared heat of the night was added to the score sheet.

Shared heat number seven followed immediately, as Nicolai Klindt, who had been conspicuous by his absence all night, burst into action. With the track having slicked off considerably, Klindt burst from the tapes and was never really challenged. Nick Morris and Stefan Nielsen, who was in for Schramm, filled the minor places, and apart from an early challenge in the opening turns, neither could make any impression on the flying Klindt, and the Rebels lead remained at 6-points, 39-33.

The Rebels finally broke the tow in Heat 13, but again had to come from behind a quick starting opponent to do it. Micky Dyer made a rapid exit from the tapes to lead up, with Josh Grajczonek giving chase, and Patrick Hougaard languishing in third after missing the gate. Grajczonek pressured Dyer, buzzing all around his back wheel, trying inside and out to find away to the lead. Then on the back straight of Lap 3, and right out of the clouds, came the storm that was Patrick Hougaard. Closing at very high speed, he powered up the inside of the third turn, almost knocking his race partner, Grajczonek, out of the way, before switching to the outside line, and charging around the boards in his pursuit of Dyer. Dyer held off Hougaard’s strong pressure on the opening turns of the final lap, but could find nothing that could prevent Hougaard’s powerful, dirt line, winning run around the final turn, as the crowd went into raptures. The Rebels posted a 2-point advantage, and the surprised Josh Grajczonek took a solid third place.

With the Scorpions now needing to score an advantage to take a league point from the encounter, the Rebels locked them out in the final two races, to secure all the available points, and move themselves up to sixth place in the battle for the playoffs.

Ashley Birks and Stefan Nielsen contested the early stages of Heat 14, as Alex Davies made a terrible start to be last into the turn. Nielsen led on the inside of the opening bends, only to see Birks come back at him. The race then developed into two distinct battles. At the back, Davies and Lewis Blackbird hammered away at each other, whilst at the front Nielsen and Birks engaged in a pass fest, until Birks eventually wore Nielsen down, and moved into the lead late in the race. Importantly for the Rebels it was Davies who prevailed in the battle for the minor places, and ensured that a similar result in the final race would see the Rebels progress to sixth place in the League table.

The nominated heat, unsurprisingly, saw Patrick Hougaard back to the tapes, after his Heat 13 heroics, accompanied by Josh Grajczonek. The Scorpions sent out the prolific Ashley Birks and the latecomer that was Nicolai Klindt. Klindt rocketed from the tapes, with Birks emerging in second place. Patrick Hougaard was next away, and soon got into his running, firstly rounding Birks into the second turn, before despatching Klindt, up his inside, almost immediately. Klindt hit back, and was back in front well down the back straight, but Hougaard wound on the throttle, and cruised by Klindt in the final turns of the lap to lead again. Whilst Klindt pursued his fellow Dane, Hougaard was always at ease, and ran out a comfortable winner to condemn the Scorpions to a pointless night.

With almost two thirds of the heats being shared, it was a close enthralling battle all night, with both teams up for the fight. Once again the crowd had been treated to a superb night of action, and Patrick Hougaard had contributed to that in a huge way. A look at the Rebels score card showed that it was not just a one man performance, with almost every man getting at least a paid 6. For the Scorpions Ashley Birks was the stand out rider, but apart from Dyer and latterly Klindt, he had little support from the rest of the team.

The meeting sponsors, ‘Case’s’, had a hard task in choosing the winner of the ‘Rider of the Night’ award, but in the end his last couple of rides, swung the decision in favour of the Rebels guest for the night, Patrick Hougaard, as the deserved winner.

Somerset – 49
1. Patrick Hougaard (G) 1', 3, 3, 3, 3 = 13+1
2. Kyle Newman 2, 2', 3, Flx = 7+1
3. Nick Morris Flx, 1, 3, 2 = 6
4. Alex Davies 2, 3, 2', 1' = 8+2
5. Josh Grajczonek 3, 1', 3, 1, 0 = 8+1
6. Stefan Nielsen 0, 2, 0, 1', 2 = 5+1
7. Chris Schramm (G) 2, F, 0 = 2

Scunthorpe – 41
1. Micky Dyer (G) 3, 0, 2, 2 = 7
2. Thomas Jorgensen 0, 2, 2, 1' = 5+1
3. Nicolai Klindt 1, 0, 2, 3, 2 = 8
4. Ashley Birks 3, 3, 1', 3, 1' = 11+2
5. David Howe 2, R, 1, 0 = 3
6. Ryan Douglas 3, 1, 0, 0 = 4
7. Lewis Blackbird 1, 1', 1', 0 = 3+2
SCB Referee: Ronnie Allan

Heat Details
Heat 01: Dyer, Newman, Hougaard, Jorgensen (3-3) (3-3) 57.22
Heat 02: (Re-run) Douglas, Schramm, Blackbird, Nielsen (2-4) (5-7) 59.13
Heat 03: (Re-run) Birks, Davies, Klindt, Morris (fell – exl) (2-4) (7-11) 58.19
Heat 04: Grajczonek, Howe, Blackbird, Schramm fell (3-3) (10-14) 58.31
Heat 05: Davies, Jorgensen, Morris, Dyer (4-2) (14-16) 58.22
Heat 06: (Re-run) Hougaard, Newman, Douglas, Howe ret (5-1) (19-17) 57.57
Heat 07: Birks, Nielsen, Grajczonek, Klindt (3-3) (22-20) 58.53
Heat 08: Newman, Jorgensen, Blackbird, Schramm (3-3) (25-23) 58.23
Heat 09: Morris, Davies, Howe, Douglas (5-1) (30-24) 58.63
Heat 10: (Re-run) Hougaard, Klindt, Birks, Newman (fell – exl) (3-3) (33-27) 58.97
Heat 11: Grajczonek, Dyer, Jorgensen, Nielsen (3-3) (36-30) 59.03
Heat 12: Klindt, Morris, Nielsen, Douglas (3-3) (39-33) 59.32
Heat 13: Hougaard, Dyer, Grajczonek, Howe (4-2) (43-35) 59.28
Heat 14: Birks, Nielsen, Davies, Blackbird (3-3) (46-38) 59.63
Heat 15: Hougaard, Klindt, Birks, Grajczonek (3-3) (49-41) 59.12

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