Highbridge-based speedway side Somerset Rebels are celebrating becoming 2015 Premier League KO Cup Champions.
It follows an exciting performance on Friday night in which the Rebels narrowly lost to the Edinburgh Monarchs by 47-43 but won 92-88 on aggregate to lift the trophy.
The Rebels went into the second leg at Edinburgh’s Armadale home holding an 8-point lead from Tuesday’s 1st leg at the Oaktree Arena, but that lead was wiped out after just two heats of the 2nd leg with Edinburgh hitting home maximum heat wins in each of the opening two races to bring the aggregate scores level.
To their credit, however, the Rebels did not buckle under this initial Monarch onslaught and contained Edinburgh, to the extent that the Monarchs were only 2 points to the good on aggregate by the halfway stage, Somerset’s Paul Starke celebrating his elevation into the main body of the team with two crucial race wins in heats 5 and 8 to restrict the home side.
The second half of the match saw Somerset come back at the Monarchs with Starke making it a personal hat-trick of race wins in heat 11, this after heats 9 and 10 saw a share of the spoils, and with 4 heats still remaining Edinburgh led by 8 points on the night, which meant that the two sides were level-pegging as far as the aggregate score was concerned.
Heat 12 saw Somerset’s Rasmus Jensen, who had endured a torrid evening up until then, and Wright easily held off Erik Riss, Edinburgh’s sole representative in the race after Robert Branford had been excluded in the first attempt to run the race, that 5-1 to Somerset putting them to just 4 points behind Edinburgh in the match, but more importantly, into a 4 point aggregate lead overall.
With Brady Kurtz having a poor night by his standards, the 19 year-old having picked to just 2 points from his three rides, there came a stroke of tactical genius from Somerset team manager Garry May as he replaced Kurtz with guest reserve Luke Chessell, who was still have to take his 3rd mandatory ride.
With Rebels skipper Josh Grajczonek splitting the Edinburgh duo of Cook and Masters in heat 13, Somerset held a 2 point aggregate lead with two heats remaining, but with Chessell now having taken his 3rd ride, it allowed May to use his other reserve, and heat 12 winner, Rasmus Jensen in place of Chessell in heat 14.
The move worked a treat, as although the initially running of the heat saw Edinburgh’s Erik Riss hit the front from the tapes, the German went too wide coming off the 2nd bend which allowed the Somerset duo of Worrall and Jensen through into 1st and 2nd places, but Riss lost control of his bike in trying to correct his initial error and came to grief on the 3rd bend, he almost taking the other 3 riders with him.
With Riss excluded from the re-run, Jensen and Wright easily held off Robert Branford, the resultant 5-1 being the cue for the celebrations to start in the Somerset camp as with one heat still remaining, the Rebels were in an unassailable aggregate lead and they were the 2015 Premier League Travel Plus Tours KO Cup Winners!
Jubilant Garry May, the Somerset team manager, said afterwards: “What can I say. The boys were superb, every one of them, Starkey [Paul Starke] was magnificent while Richie [Worrall] was just awesome and Josh Grajczonek kept picking up vital points for us, as did Wrighty [Charles Wright] while Rasmus [Jensen] turned his evening around to combine with Charles and Richie for those 5-1’s in heats 12 and 14.”
“It could have been so easy for their heads to drop after conceding those two 5-1’s in the first two heats, but they stuck at it and didn’t let Edinburgh get away from us before coming back at the in the latter heats.”
“I know it probably turned a few heads when I took Brady out of his final ride in heat 13 and put Luke Chessell in, but I was looking at the bigger picture, and after discussing it with Brady, he was happy to give up his ride in heat 13 for the good of the team, and luckily the move paid off and we are bringing the KO Cup back to Somerset!”
Pictured: The celebrations at the fixture on Friday evening (pics Ron Macneill)