Somerset Rebels beat Leicester to win Premier League final
Somerset Rebels beat Leicester Lions on Friday evening (October
12th) to reach the biggest fixture in the club's history - the
Premier League play-off grand final.
Rebels had to win by at least seven points to guarantee their
final place and, in fact won by 54 points to 39 in front of a
huge crowd at the Oaktree Arena.
promoter Debbie Hancock said: "Although Leicester pegged
us back during the first half of the meeting, but despite us not
really getting a foothold in those early heats, our overall strength
came to the fore in the latter stages to see us through to the
the amount of rain we've had here in recent days as well
as on the morning of the match itself, I thought the standard
of racing was excellent but although Leicester made it difficult
for us, the boys were not to be denied tonight and so it proved."
"We now have to wait and see who we will be facing in the
Final, but whoever that turns out to be, I am sure that the Final
will produce two great matches for the fans to enjoy, and with
the Rebels also in the League Cup Final, as I said last week,
these are certainly exciting times for everyone at the Oaktree
the West Country seemingly having spent the last week preparing
for a second visit from Noah, and his menagerie, the prospects
for this meeting appeared a little grim, but the weather relented
just long enough to get the meeting underway, and completed before
the deluge returned. Referee Dave Watters kept the meeting ticking
along at a brisk pace, as the Cases Somerset Rebels
set out on the path to gain the three points they required to
see them into the Play Off final, with only short periods of light
rain to threatening that progression on the night.
With the Rebels at full strength, the visitors were forced to
run Rider Replacement for Lasse Bjerre, who was already
committed to attend the Czech Golden Helmet, when the original
running of this meeting was called. They also tracked Lewis Kerr
at reserve in place of broken collar bone victim, Lewis Blackbird.
Jason Doyle got the meeting underway with a lightning start that
saw him lead all the way from Lions skipper, Kauko Nieminen. Alex
Davies found room tight at the first turn, as he was shuffled
to the back of the field, but he chased hard all the way, and
was challenging back at the third turn, however he could not find
a way back into the fray, and the opening heat was shared.
The Rebels took their first advantage in Heat two, when Kyle Newman
made the best start to just lead into the first turn, with Lewis
Kerr pressing him hard. Kerr kept up the pressure for a couple
of laps, before Newman asserted his authority. Tom Perry recovered
from a tardy start to collect third place off the final bend of
the lap, demoting former Rebel, Jari Makinen to the rear, as he
swept around the wide line into the straight. With the tracks
still fairly greasy, Perry closed down Kerr over the next couple
of laps, but could not work a passing opportunity.
Another shared heat followed after Jesper B Monberg and Linus
Eklof had contested the early stages of Heat 3. It was the Rebels
man who prevailed at the first turn, clamping Eklof to the kerb.
That was virtually the story of the race, as Monberg pulled well
clear, and James Wright struggled at the rear after missing the
Heat 4 went to the Rebels, with Claus Vissing making the best
of a level break, to lead into the first bend. Magnus Karlsson
was next to show, and came roaring off the second bend to challenge
Vissing hard down the back straight and into the third turn. Vissing
repelled the test from the Swede, to go on and take the win, but
as he came down the back straight for the final time, his machine
sounded slightly edgy, and off the final bend he slowed, but just
hung on for the win from the fast finishing Karlsson. Behind them
Tom Perry was slow out of the traps, before nipping up the inside
of Lewis Kerr on the third turn of lap two, to claim the minor
The Lions took their first heat win in the fifth renewal, but
not before two restarts. The first running was called back after
the referee called James Wright for a big jump at the tapes, and
then Jan Graversen blasted through the barrier, forcing another
re-run and bringing Lewis Kerr into the line up. In the final
try, Kauko Nieminen flew from the tapes, and won unchallenged,
pulling clear over the final couple of laps. The only action behind
him was as the Rebels exchanged places at the conclusion of the
first lap, with Jesper B Monberg taking up second spot, as the
points were shared.
The pattern of shared heats and Rebels 4-2s continued in
Heat 6, when Alex Davies beat Magnus Karlsson to the drop. Jason
Doyle, by his own standards, made an awful start, but had soon
gone by Jari Makinen, and was pressing Karlsson up the inside
of the third turn, but his attack was beaten off, and try as he
might he could not make any further headway. At the front Davies
was steaming ahead, pulling further and further clear with every
turn of the wheels.
The pattern of heats was broken in Heat 7, when the Lions took
their first advantage of the night. Jan Graversen and Linus Eklof
blasted from the tapes, leaving the Rebels pair of Claus Vissing
and Kyle Newman floundering in their wake. Vissing chased down
Eklof, and took up the chase on Graversen down the back straight,
but to no avail, as his fellow Dane was untouchable. Kyle Newman
never got in the hunt, as the Lions took a 2-4 heat win.
The Lions loaded the dice in Heat 8, giving Magnus Karlsson the
replacement ride. The tactic worked to a degree as Karlsson out
trapped Alex Davies and Tom Perry at the tapes, with a flying
start. Davies took up the challenge and chipped away at Karlsson
lead over the next three laps, before conjuring up a storming
run off the final two bends of the race, as he flew up the inner,
almost catching Karlsson at the line. Tom Perry easily held third
spot, with Lewis Kerr well beaten, as the points were shared.
Heat 9 had the unusual sight of two riders off a 15 metre handicap,
after Magnus Karlsson demolished the tapes, and James Wright was
subsequently excluded for delaying the start, after having received
an official warning in Heat 5. The restart saw both Rebels beat
their opponents off the line. At the front Jesper B Monberg shot
off the line to lead up Jari Makinen, whilst Wright made short
work of demoting Karlsson to the rear. By the end of the first
lap, Wright had caught and passed Makinen, and that was it, race
over, with the Rebels taking a full house of points. Makinen retired
at the end of lap three, and Karlsson had to suffer a push home
for the final point, after he had fallen when his chain let go
on the final turn of the race.
Having finally broken loose from a the Lions, the Rebels hammered
home a second successive maximum in Heat 10 to take them 12-points
to the good, as Jason Doyle beat Linus Eklof off the gate to lead
into the turn. Alex Davies Found a clear path around the inside
of the opening bends to join Doyle at the head of affairs. Once
at the front the Rebels rode to a bloodless victory, with Jan
Graversen taking the minor points for the Lions.
The Lions were quick to use the tactical move, sending the captain,
Kauko Nieminen, out in the Black and White. The visiting
fans had visions of a 1-8 advantage as the Lions pair took control
after a level break, and Kyle Newman retired just yards after
the start. Newmans woes were caused by a split fuel pipe,
draining the tank of fuel, with the last few drops used in the
start. Claus Vissing was soon pressing Lewis Kerr for second,
but the Kings Lynn Young Stars youngster held him off manfully
for two laps, until succumbing to a Vissing charge of the final
bend of Lap 2. However he wasnt done, and sneaked back into
second, before finally having to give best on the first turn of
the next lap. The resulting 2-7 advantage cut the Lions deficit
If ever a lap of speedway demonstrated the courage displayed by
speedway riders, and the trust they put in their fellow competitors,
it was the opening lap of Heat 12. A level break had seen Linus
Eklof and Jari Makinen just lead up, but Tom Perry came charging
around the outside to streak past Makinen in the opener, and challenge
Eklof. The young Swede moved Perry out wide, appearing to deny
the Midlands based racer a run to the front, but Perry had other
ideas, and kept the throttle wide open. The pair raced wheel-to-wheel,
with Perry perilously close to the safety fence. It seemed impossible
that there was enough room for Perry to negotiate the bends, but
negotiate them he did, until Eklof finally got the upper hand
as they ran around the first turn of lap 2. It was a stunningly
brave ride by Perry, and one that could have ended in disaster
at any time; it was just breathtaking stuff from two young chargers.
In the end Eklof went on to take an easy win, as Jesper B Monberg
took second spot on lap, having been just a spectator for the
dazzling opening exchanges. Jari Makinen retired on lap three.
7-points to the good, the Rebels could not afford any slip ups
over the final three heats, and they looked to have made a huge
step to ensuring that that would be the case as Jason Doyle jetted
from the line in Heat 13 to lead up, but had Magnus Karlsson pressing
on the inside. Karlsson moved Doyle wide into the dirt and in
the process left a big hole on his inside. It was an invitation
that Claus Vissing couldnt refuse, and he guided through
between the lions duo to lead off the second turn, but no sooner
had he got his nose in front, disaster struck, and his machine
failed, and he ground to a halt amidst shrieks of disgust. Doyle
was soon back at the front, beating off Karlssons challenge
as he powered around the wide line off the final turn of the lap.
The Lions pair kept Doyle up to his mettle, as they pressured
him all the way to the flag, but try as they might, neither could
find a way to deny him the win.
The Rebels put the result virtually beyond doubt in Heat 14, piling
in a maximum advantage to open up an almost unassailable lead
for the three match points. A level break saw Kyle Newman lead
before the turn, with James Wright at his back. Wright moved out
into the dirt, taking the widest of lines to give the Rebels the
track position. The pair raced together with Wright just leading
after the first lap. Jan Graversen closed over the next couple
of laps, and looked to have just got the measure of Newman, when
he came down on the first turn of the final lap, with what appeared
to be a mechanical failure to his machine, giving the Rebels the
maximum advantage in the process. Whatever ailed Graversens
bike, it prompted him to produce a nice little comedy moment as
he gave it a swift kick before retiring to the pits.
Whilst it was mathematically possible for the Lions to sneak an
away point from the tie, the Rebels were never going to let it
happen. Jason Doyle and Jesper B Monberg were entrusted with the
nominated heat, but Monbergs bike seized on the stand, and
his place was taken by Alex Davies. For the visitors the obvious
choices came to the track, in the shape of Kauko Nieminen and
Magnus Karlsson. As the tapes rose Jason Doyle caught a big lift,
but was still able to lead into the turn, with Magnus Karlsson
close up. Alex Davies was slower into his stride, but soon had
it rolling along. He made a neat inside move on Karlsson at the
final turn, as the Swedish ace was trying the same move on Doyle.
Whilst Daviess move had a successful outcome, Karlsson wasnt
so lucky, with the Rebels duo taking the advantage, one on either
side of him. Davies stormed off into a lead, with Doyle in his
wheel tracks, but at the line the pair were almost inseparable,
with Davies just taking the spoils, and the resulting 5-1, giving
the Rebels a final 54-39 win.
The final score line did not do the visitors full justice, as
they kept the Rebels under pressure for most of the tie, and it
was only in the latter stages, where the home sides strength
in depth told. For the Lions, Skipper Kauko Nieminen and Magnus
Karlsson banked the majority of the points, with Nieminen producing
a top scoring 12+1, including a 6-point tactical. Karlsson scored
points in every ride, posting an 11-point tally in the process.
They were backed up by a decent 7-point haul from Linus Eklof,
with Jan Graversen worth more than his five. Lewis Kerr proved
to be a worthy guest booking with his 4-point return, but Jari
Makinen suffered a frustrating night of mechanical problems.
The entire Rebels septet produced valuable points, with Jason
Doyle and Alex Davies top of the shop, with 12+1 and 10+1 respectively.
Jesper B Monberg weighed in 9-points, with James Wright and Claus
Vissing posting 7+1 and 7. Whilst the reserve tally was a creditable
paid 12 between them, with Tom Perrys Heat 12 ride the highlight.
Jason Doyles performance earned him the Rider of the
Night award from the match sponsors, Harris Brothers
The Rebels must now wait for the outcome of the opposite group,
to see who their opponents will be in the Play Off Final, with
Scunthorpe currently sitting top of the pile, but the final outcome
will not be known, until Workington and Edinburgh complete their
matches. The Rebels next match should now be the League Cup Final,
against either Ipswich or Workington.
The Oaktree Arena hosted the night of action (Pics: Colin Burnett)