Wednesday August 14, 2013
The ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels lined-up against the Sheffield Tigers, who have the best record over the years of any visiting team to the Oaktree Arena, but the Steel City side were to leave the West Country a few hours later on the back of this 68-23 defeat, their heaviest loss at the hands of the Rebels.

Rain all morning and two very heavy showers late in the afternoon put this match in serious doubt of ever getting underway, but Trojanesque work by the Somerset track staff once the rain had relented saw them get the track into good enough condition for the meeting to get underway on time, with credit due to all 13 riders who were prepared to ‘give it a go.’

With a place at the top of the Premier League table to aim for, it was the Rebels who adapted better to the conditions as they tore the Tigers apart recording maximum race wins in each of the opening 4 heats to all but end this match as a contest even at this early stage of proceedings.

The track conditions dictated that gating was to be of paramount importance and the home riders were far superior in this department for the majority of the 15 heats, Somerset’s only ‘blot’ in their run of early maximum race wins coming when Alex Davies got ‘bogged down’ coming out of gate 3 in heat 5, and try as he might there was no passing Tigers’ guest Thomas Jørgensen to join team-mate Nick Morris up front, and in the following race when Kyle Newman got well and truly ‘filled in’ as the riders took to the first turn, and by the time the Somerset rider had cleared his goggles, he was well adrift of the rest of the field.

With the close quarter action usually seen at the Oaktree Arena being at a premium, heat 8 proved to be the race of the night, it being Sheffield’s first attempt to try and get some sort of foot-hold in the match with Ricky Wells being sent to the tapes donning the black and white helmet colour on a double-point tactical ride.

From the off it looked as if the move might pay some sort of dividends as the American International hit the front, but he reckoned without Simon Lambert, the Somerset reserve sweeping around the outside of Wells to take the lead as the riders took to the pits bend for the first time.

Re-grouping, Wells set about chasing Lambert down, and by the time the riders were starting their final lap, he was right on Lambert’s tail and, moving to the inside on the final turn, looked to have made a telling move as he edged in front of his quarry.

Lambert, however, had other ideas and seeking his first win in Somerset colours was not going to be denied his moment and toughing it out with Wells as the came off that final turn edged himself in front to take the chequered flag and that maiden Somerset race win to the acclaim of the home fans.

Thereafter, any hopes that Sheffield had of stemming the Somerset tide had about as much success as King Canute’s efforts all those centuries ago, and the Rebels just plied on the misery with Wells being the only visiting rider to cause the Rebels any problems, his win over Doyle in heat 10, the only time a visitor rider was to be first across the line, ending the Somerset captain’s hopes of yet another home maximum, whilst heat 12 saw him gain revenge for his earlier defeat to Lambert, his second place ahead of the Boston-based Rebel also bring an end to his maximum dreams.

With everything sorted as far as the meeting victory and all 3 league point were concerned some heats earlier and, as a consequence, there being nothing to ride for, heat 15 was to provide the night’s major drama’s, as the first attempt to run the race saw all bar Stefan Nielsen hook-up together as the riders left the tapes, sending the trio of Roynon, Morris and Jørgensen speeding towards the 1st bend safety fence at a fair rate of knots.

It was a minor miracle that from what looked to have been a very nasty incident that all 3 riders were able to get up and walk away from the carnage, albeit that the unfortunate Roynon was unable to take his place in the re-run having suffered a suspected broken collar-bone.

With no rider out to replace Roynon, the re-run saw Morris hit the front, but as Jørgensen, Sheffield’s only representative in the race tried to cut back under Stefan Nielsen as the riders took to the 3rd turn, it saw the Somerset rider come to grief, referee Graham Reeve deeming Jørgensen the cause of the incident and duly excluded him from the 2nd re-run.

With just the two Somerset riders left to contest heat 15 surely this would be a formality, but even then there was almost a sting in the tail as Morris who was out front at the time suddenly slowed on the final bend as his bike gave up the ghost which ‘gifted’ the race-win to team-mate Nielsen for him to complete his first maximum for the Rebels, Morris coasting over the line for 2nd place for his own ‘full house,’ with Josh Grajczonek the third Somerset rider to remain unbeaten on the night as the Rebels duly moved to the top of the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s three match Northern Tour that will see them visit Edinburgh, Berwick and Glasgow before returning to the Oaktree Arena the following Friday (23rd) and the visit of the Ipswich Witches.

J Doyle 3 3 2 2* - - - 10+1
K Newman 2* 0 1 1* - - - 4+2
N Morris 2* 3 3 3 2* - - 13+2
A Davies 3 1 2* 3 - - - 9+1
J Grajczonek 3 3 3 3 - - - 12
S Nielsen 3 2* 2* 2* 3 - - 12+3
S Lambert 2* 2* 3 1 - - - 8+2
Team Manager: Garry May

T Jørgensen [g] R 2 1^ R X - - 3
Rider replacement – Joe Haines
R Wells 1 1 4^ 3 2 - - 11
A Compton 1 0 0 0 0 - - 1
A Roynon R 2 1 1 N - - 4
B Johnson [g] 0 1* F - - - - 1+1
F Albin 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 3
Team Manager: David Hoggart & Nigel Hinchliffe

Referee: Graham Reeve

1: Doyle, Newman, Compton, Jørgensen (ret), 58.81 (5-1)
2: Nielsen, Lambert, Albin, Johnson, 60.47 (10-2)
3: Davies, Morris, Wells, Compton, 60.31 (15-3)
4: Grajczonek, Lambert, Albin, Roynon (ret), 60.91 (20-4)
5: Morris, Jørgensen, Davies, Albin, 60.47 (24-6)
6: Doyle, Roynon, Johnson, Newman, 59.60 (27-9)
7: Grajczonek, Nielsen, Wells, Compton, 60.72 (32-10)
8: Lambert, Wells^, Newman, Albin, 60.97 (36-14)
9: Morris, Davies, Roynon, Johnson (f), 59.32 (41-15)
10: Wells, Doyle, Newman, Compton, 60.78 (44-18)
11: Grajczonek, Nielsen, Jørgensen^, Albin, 61.09 (49-19)
12: Morris, Wells, Lambert, Albin, 60.41 (53-21)
13: Grajczonek, Doyle, Roynon, Jørgensen (ret), 60.09 (58-22)
14: Davies, Nielsen, Albin, Compton, 60.19 (63-23)
15: (re-run x 2) Nielsen, Morris, Jørgensen (exc), Roynon (f.ns), 62.13 (68-23)

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