The Highbridge-based Somerset Rebels speedway team will take an advantage to Poole on October 1st but it will be much smaller than most local fans would have been liked as the Poole Pirates proved stubborn opposition in the Premiership play-off semi-final first leg on Monday (September 17th).
A narrow 46-44 victory, masterminded by a superb 13 point display from Jason Doyle, has put the pressure on the Rebels if they are to make it through to their maiden top flight play-off final but team manager Garry May is quick to point out that “it is only half-time in the tie.”
He added: “Of course we would have liked more points to play with but as I said before it is important to go into every meeting wanting to win it and that will have to be the case at Poole on October 1st. They (Poole) might consider themselves now as the favourites but we can ride their place and we always knew it was going to be a tough semi-final because the two sides are so well matched.”
May had seen the Rebels work into an early four point lead but the Pirates had the meeting squared by heat 7 when ex-Rebel Josh Grajczonek pulled clear of Jack Holder and Nicolai Klindt managed to overcome an intense battle with Jake Allen.
The Rebels looked as though they might re-open their lead in heat 8 but a close-run finish just saw Frederik Jakobsen hold out Bradley Wilson-Dean who had thrown everything into a last bend dash only to be short of the pass by the smallest of margins.
Jakobsen’s win shared the spoils and the meeting was equally balanced until Allen again lost out in a furious battle, this time with Woryna whilst Kurtz was out winning his second ride of the night.
The Rebels were helped to a match-levelling 4-2 when Richie Worrall retired from heat 12 when in a scoring position, but there was no benevolence about the brilliant 4-2 from Doyle and Holder in heat 13 both making excellent moves on Kurtz and Harris respectively. Nicolai Klindt though made a super start in heat 14 and Jakobsen challenged Lawson successfully late on for third place to once again level the scores before Doyle overcame Klindt, who then denied Holder any route through in heat 15.
Before the Rebels can contemplate how they are to prevent the Pirates from clawing back the slender advantage, they have to focus on defending their fourteen point lead in the knockout cup when they travel to Belle Vue, Manchester on Wednesday night.