October 28, 2014
One point Grand Final defeat is 'hard to take' admits Rebels manager

For the second time in three years the Highbridge-based Somerset Rebels lost in the Premier League Championship Grand Final by a single race point at the weekend.

It comes after their second leg at Edinburgh’s Scotwaste Arena went down to a last heat decider before Edinburgh clinched the title 96-95 on aggregate.

"Many congratulations to Edinburgh on winning the title," said Somerset team manager Garry May.

"They were the form side throughout the season, but we certainly pushed them all the way and the way the Somerset boys came back at Edinburgh to take it into that last heat decider speaks volumes for the character of the team."

"Unfortunately, someone has to lose in situations such as this, and on this occasion it was our turn to do so, though to lose by a single race point for the second time in 3 years is a bit hard to take right now, but we will come back from this next year all the stronger for it ready to reclaim that Championship trophy."

Somerset took a 12-point lead into the 2nd leg on Saturday, courtesy of Fruday night’s 54-42 1st leg win over the Monarchs at the Oak Tree Arena, but that lead was immediately under threat to the extent that Edinburgh moved into the aggregate lead themselves by the conclusion of heat 6 as the Monarchs hit home 4 maximum race wins over the course of the first 6 heats.

Somerset guest Aaron Summers, in for the injured Olly Allen, was particularly unlucky in his first two rides as he first found himself with no room to manoeuvre after a tight first bend in the opening heat, which dropped him to the back of the field.

His second outing saw the young Australian once again make a good start, but being on the outside it left him vulnerable to any inside move, and so it proved as Edinburgh’s Max Fricke challenged him for the lead, Summers just clipping the fence as the pair took to the back straight, he taking a nasty looking fall as a consequence which saw him and machine career across the track, both narrowly missing team mate Todd Kurtz, before coming to a halt on the Centre Green.

Any hopes that the home Edinburgh fans had of their side then pulling away to win the title we quickly dispelled, however, as the Rebels hit back, the 2nd half of the match seeing the aggregate lead swing first one way and then the other, two superb race wins by reserve Paul Starke and an 8-1 courtesy of Aaron Summers and Pontus Aspgren being the catalyst of the Rebels fight back.

As the riders came to the tapes for heat 13, Edinburgh led by 5 points on the night, but it was Somerset who had moved back into the lead on aggregate by 7 points, but it was to be a somewhat eventual race, the first two attempts to run it seeing riders, Cook and Masters for Edinburgh, Summers and Morris for Somerset, strewn all over the track on the 1st turn as all 4 tried to gain the crucial race lead.

With emotions and, no doubt, some degree of frustrations, running high, there was a confrontation between a couple of the riders as they got to their feet, but order was quickly restored and it was to be the Monarchs’ duo who finally made things count as they hit home a 5-1 maximum heat win in the third running of the race.

Whilst a share of the spoils in heat 14, the penultimate race, saw Edinburgh 49-40 to the good on the night, it did mean that Somerset led on aggregate by a slender 3 point margin, meaning that any score other than a 5-1 race win to Edinburgh in heat 15 would see Somerset crowned Premier League champions for the second successive season.

It was, however, to be heartbreak time for the Rebels and their band of travelling supporters who had made the long trip up to Edinburgh to cheer their side on, as the Edinburgh duo of Craig Cook and Sam Masters made no mistake from the tapes to hit the front with Somerset’s Nick Morris giving chase.

But it was to no avail as Somerset’s other representative, Pontus Aspgren fell on the second lap and although the race was stopped, the referee awarded the heat to Edinburgh, which was sufficient for the Monarchs to snatch the title from Somerset’s grasp by that single race point to leave the Rebels camp in complete desolation with the team coming so close in their attempt to retain their Championship crown.

Pictured: The action over the weekend (pics Ron MacNeill and Steve Brock)

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