Updated: October 28, 2012
Somerset Rebels Premier League play-off postponed until Monday

Highbridge's Somerset Rebels will be trying to create club history on Monday (October 29th) and win the 'big one', the Premier League title, as they take on the Scunthorpe Scorpions in the delayed second leg of the Premier League Play Off Final.

Heavy rain and water-logging led to the postponement of Sunday afternoon's scheduled fixture, which has been rearranged to Monday evening instead.

The Rebels go into Monday's crunch second play-off buoyed up after Friday's 49-44 win at the Oak Tree Arena.

The Rebels side on Friday was unchanged from Thursday's League Cup win, with Craig Cook and Lewis Kerr deputising for the injured Jason Doyle and Tom Perry respectively.

The Scorpions plan to track former Rebels Sam Masters in both legs of the tie was thwarted for the first leg, as Masters was called up by Poole for their Elite League Knock Out Cup Final clash at Coventry. In his place they brought in another former Rebel, in the shape of Anders Mellgren, but will revert to Masters in the second leg.

Mellgren’s knowledge of the Highbridge circuit paid immediate dividends as he streaked off the line to lead before the first turn in Heat 1. Alex Davies was next up, quickly followed by Josh Auty, who got the better of a slow starting Craig Cook on the run up.

As the first three fought out a close battle for all four laps, Cook was clearly struggling at the rear, and retired when a long way behind on the final lap, on a track that was obviously slicker than he had expected. For the Scorpions it was a great start, and a warning for the Rebels that this tie would not be easy.

Kyle Newman tried to redress the balance in Heat 2, as he came from third place off the tapes, to lead off the second turn. The Scorpions duo of Michael Palm Toft and Gary Irving had trapped on a 5-1, but Newman cleverly slipped up the inside of the pair on the opening turns to lead onto the back straight. Once there, he held off a hard pressing Palm Toft for all four laps. At the rear, Lewis Kerr could not make an impression on Gary Irving and the points were shared.

The Rebels levelled the scores in the next as James Wright bolted from the line to put paid to the ‘flyer’ from rider replacement, Michael Palm Toft. Wright’s rapid start soon had him up the inside of Palm Toft, and he pulled clear of the Dane to hold a good lead until Palm Toft closed him down in the latter stages of the race.

Despite the late run, the Scorpions’ man was never going to catch Wright, who took the win, as he team mate Jesper B Monberg took the minor honours to give the Rebels their first heat advantage of the night.

The Rebels switched reserves in the Heat 4, introducing Kyle Newman for Lewis Kerr, in an attempt to put points in the bank, but when Gary Irving and Nick Morris lead before the turn, points in the Rebels bank looked anything but possible. With Morris riding shotgun for Irving, the Scorpions’ twosome looked to have done enough to post a full house, but Claus Vissing had other ideas, and on the final lap he started to lay down a storming run, which culminated with a powerful swoop around the widest of line s off the final bend. He roared past Morris off the last turn, and just failed to make inroads into Irving’s lead on the line.

After briefly leading off the tapes in Heat 5, the visitors pairing of Auty and Mellgren were overpowered by James Wright’s fast start and charging run around the wide line on the first turn. Unfortunately for the Rebels, just as Jesper B Monberg was delivering his challenge up the inside, Anders Mellgren shed a primary chain in a huge shower of sparks, and in the process stopped Monberg’s run, leaving Auty in second spot. As Wright powered away at the front, Monberg could not pull back the Mirfield racer, but the resulting 4-2 brought the Rebels level for the second time.

A shared heat followed, with the Scorpions providing the winner, but as the tapes rose it looked like they would take all the points available to them. Michael Palm Toft scorched off the line, and was followed into the turn by Nick Morris. They pulled out a good lead, and just as they were about to post a maximum advantage, Palm Toft lost his chain and ground to a halt, offering up a fortunate shared heat for the Rebels pair of Craig Cook and Alex Davies.

The Rebels took the lead for the first time in Heat 7, and they did it in emphatic style with a full house 5-1. The field broke level, only to see the Scorpions Gary Irving take advantage at the opening turn. Kyle Newman tracked him around the outside and in the third turn he powered by to take the lead. Meanwhile Claus Vissing was putting down a good run on the wide line, and came with a wet sail off the final turn of the lap to storm by Irving up the home straight. Once at the head of affairs the Rebels combination pulled away to a resounding maximum win.

It was all change in Heat 8, as both teams swapped reserves, with Kyle Newman and Michael Palm Toft taking the places of Lewis Kerr and Gary Irving respectively. In the end the heat was shared, as the Rebels pair of Alex Davies and Newman led off the line, but were closely followed by Palm Toft. Palm Toft got a good run up the inside and took up the lead onto the back straight, and as he opened a small lead, his partner, Anders Mellgren, who had been last at the turn, retired along the back straight. Davies chased hard, but couldn’t make headway into the Danes lead, and eventually the points were distributed evenly between both sides.

Over the next couple of heats the Rebels opened up a lead, firstly in Heat 9, where they posted a 4-2 advantage. As the tapes rose it was Jesper B Monberg and Nick Morris who disputed the lead, with the Rebels man just getting the better of the battle to the turn. Meanwhile James Wright lifted off the line, and gave Michael Palm Toft the initial advantage, but just as Monberg had done, Wright got the advantage into the opening bend. Morris was all over Monberg for the lead, but try as he might he could not find a way around the determined Rebel, who took the win. Wright also sealed the deal for third as the Rebels added 2-pouints to their lead.

The Scorpions got off to a bad start in Heat 10, as Anders Mellgren missed the ‘Two Minutes’, and was replaced by Gary Irving in the rider replacement slot. Craig Cook blasted off the start to lead up from Alex Davies and Ashley Birks. Birks was soon past Davies as they ran into the second turn, and then went by Cook on the back straight. However his lead was short lived, when Cook swept around his outside at the start of the next lap. As Cook pulled out a lead, Davies was soon on Birks, and down the back straight he shot by the Sheffield born racer before the third bend. The Rebels opened up a lead, and pulled clear, ticking off the laps to the flag and bringing the Rebels lead to 10-points, 35-25.

That win gave the Scorpions the chance to use the tactical, and they wasted no time at all, and sent out Josh Auty in the ‘Black and White’ in Heat 11. When the tapes rose, Auty jetted off the line and led into the first bend from Claus Vissing. Vissing held second place, but on the third turn, Anders Mellgren slipped up his inside, completing the pass off the final turn of the lap. Once at the front the Scorpions pair made no mistake, holding out Vissing to the flag, and slashed the Rebels lead to just 2-points in one fell swoop.

Heat 12 saw Jesper B Monberg lead up from Ashley Birks, who was taking the replacement ride, only to see Birks streak by at the end of the lap, and with Michael Palm Toft in third place the Scorpions were on their way to a 2-4 advantage. Monberg was not going to let that happen, and he came with a powerful run, out by the fence, on the final bend of the next lap, and just as he hit the front, Palm Toft lost another chain, gifting the Rebels an unlikely 4-2 of their own.

The 13th heat saw the home side open up a 9-point lead as they posted a full house of points. Craig Cook blew them away off the tapes, leading from Josh Auty, with Nick Morris just heading Claus Vissing for third. As they approached the third turn, Vissing moved wide and roared around the fence to move from last to the lead in one flowing move. Both Rebels were out in the dirt, riding the ‘hurt zone’ right up against the fence, and never looked back as they posted the maximum advantage to boost the lead.

Anyone who thought the Scorpions had been mastered, had to think again as they blasted back a full house of their own in the very next heat. The Scorpions Ashley Birks and Michael Palm Toft broke level with Kyle Newman, and as they reached the turn, Birks just got over the top of Newman, and clamped him to the kerb, allowing Palm Toft to take second spot, and that was the race in a nutshell. Try as they might the Rebels pair couldn’t peg back their opponents, and the lead was down to 5-points with one heat to go.

The nominated heat saw the Rebels tracked Jesper B Monberg and Claus Vissing, and they were up against Nick Morris and Josh Auty from the Scorpions camp. When the tapes rose it was Morris who made the best start, leading from the get go. Jesper B Monberg chased him up to the turn, but once Morris had got the lead there was no catching him, and he pulled out to a comfortable win, with Monberg and Vissing, easily accounting for Auty, in the minor places.

As befits two of the top teams in the league, it was a tough, hard fought, tight battle, which saw the Rebels posting a 5-point lead to take to the Eddie Wright Raceway on Sunday (28th October), as they attempt to add a history making first Premier League title to their Roll of Honour.

For the Scorpions, Nick Morris posted a top scoring 10-point total, and was supported by useful scores from palm Toft and Auty. The Rebels top man in the score charts was Claus Vissing, with 10+1, but the ‘Rider of the Night’ award, presented by match sponsors MCS Ltd, went to Jesper B Monberg, who posted two wins, and a useful 9+1 haul to back up Vissing at the top of the score chart. Whilst the rest of the team all contributed vital points in the quest for the title, which now moves on to the North Lincolnshire track.

It will not be easy, as the Scorpions have proved a tough test on home shale, and like the Rebels they will not want to lose out on a maiden Premier League title, but whichever team eventually heads the pile, they will be very worthy winners indeed.

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