Speedway: Somerset 49 Sheffield 41

PUBLISHED: 07:32 22 August 2019 | UPDATED: 07:32 22 August 2019

Somerset Rebels celebrate their win over Sheffield (pic Tony Hartmann)

Somerset Rebels celebrate their win over Sheffield (pic Tony Hartmann)


Sheffield may well be the City of Steel but it was Somerset who had nerves made of it as for the second successive home meeting they claimed a heat 15 maximum to send their opponents home pointless.

Rory Schlein scored a maximum for Somerset Rebels in their win over Sheffield (pic Tony Hartmann)Rory Schlein scored a maximum for Somerset Rebels in their win over Sheffield (pic Tony Hartmann)

And Wednesday night's win at the Oak Tree Arena left promoter Debbie Hancock "absolutely thrilled" with a result that goes a long way to securing the Rebels place in the SGB Championship play-offs.

"That was a close one but I say if you are going to hit a team hard then the best time to do it is in the final heat as then they have no chance of a comeback," said Hancock.

"'Roo-boy' (Rory Schlein) and 'Morra' (Nick Morris) were absolutely superb with the way they worked their way to the front in that heat 15 and managed to stay there, especially when poor Nick had to do it with a puncture.

"I think their efforts spoke volumes about the passion that there is at this club, a passion that runs right through the team.

"This was such a key meeting for both sides and for us to come out with the result was extremely satisfying and I am so proud of 'Gazza' (Garry May) and the lads.

"They found themselves up against it early on and it took a while before we could get the breakthrough we wanted, but once we got our noses in front there was no way we wanted to let it slip away again and the whole team dug deep and played their parts in getting us over the line.

"As things stand, mathematically we are still not guaranteed a play-off place but we are extremely well positioned and I think there would have to be some remarkable results for us to miss out."

The meeting had a sprinkling of controversy, with the Sheffield riders' eagerness in trying to make quick starts resulting in a handicap start for Danny King in heat one, warnings for Zaine Kennedy and Todd Kurtz in their respective first outings and then a moment of much debate in heat nine when referee Chris Gay disqualified Kyle Howarth for touching the tapes as both he and Nico Covatti moved too early.

Gay even inspected video footage to ratify his decision before moving on to the re-run which effectively produced the turning point for the Rebels as they went ahead for the first time, courtesy of a 5-1 from Schlein and Covatti, achieved through a splendid dual move by the pair of them on Drew Kemp who was first away.

Preciously the Rebels protected that four-point advantage with a string of five shared heats, Somerset producing four of the five winners in that sequence. Significantly though, in the one heat they had to give second best to a Tiger (King in heat 13), the determination of Morris and skipper Chris Harris to peg back Howarth was immense.

Covatti's heat 14 victory made him the fifth Rebel to win a heat and just as Anders Rowe's heat 8 win was impressive, Covatti's was vital as it kept the Tigers at arms length and ensured at least a point for the Rebels.

But the pre-match instructions from team boss Garry May was to send the Tigers packing with nothing to show for their trip and with Schlein unbeaten from his programmed rides the only decision the Rebels manager had to make was who to partner him.

Morris was the chosen one and it was the perfect choice as both he and Schlein battled intensely to overcome Howarth and put the biggest margin of the whole meeting between the two sides.

The roar that greeted the duo as they crossed the line summed up succinctly what it meant to the Rebels faithful and next up for Somerset is a trip on Saturday to league leaders Leicester, who claimed a massive 55-35 away win at Birmingham on Wednesday to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

The Rebels make the trip without skipper Harris who will be competing in the FIM SGP Challenge in Gorican, Croatia, looking to try and secure a place in the 2020 Grand Prix series.

Somerset: N Morris 11+1, A Rowe 4+1, R Schlein 15, N Covatti 8+2, C Harris 9+1, L Harris 1, N Stoneman 1.

Sheffield: D King 6, J Macdonald 6+1, T Kurtz 6, J Sedgmen 3+1, K Howarth 7, Z Kennedy 6+2, D Kemp 7+2.

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