Mixed bag for the Rebels

SPEEDWAY - Stoke Potters 52 Somerset Rebels 37 - THE Somerset Dickies Rebels visits to Stoke have, over the years, proved to be something of a mixed bag, and last Saturday's encounter did not waver from the norm.

Stoke Potters 52

Somerset Rebels 37

THE Somerset Dickies Rebels visits to Stoke have, over the years, proved to be something of a mixed bag, and Saturday's encounter did not waver from the norm.

The match was a pretty close fought affair over the first 10 heats, but after that the Rebels managed to let it slip from their grip.

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In the opening heat, the Rebels pair of Lubos Tomicek and James Holder shot from the start, and led for two laps. Going onto the third circuit Holder caught a rut, locking up and allowing Lee Smart past on the back straight. Holder's loss of momentum gave Jason Lyons the opportunity to do the same at the end of the lap, and share the points.

In heat 2, Taylor Poole steamed around the outside of Lee Smart and James Holder to win by a long way, and was followed home by his team-mate, who beat to claim a full house for the home team.

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The Rebels were soon on terms again, posting five unanswered points in heat 3. In the next three heats, the sides swapped 4-2s, with the Potters having the better of the exchanges.

Two more shared heats followed, with both teams providing the heat winners. In heat 7, Stichauer added his second win of the night. Heat 8 went to Cory Gathercole who led all the way.

Heat 9 put the Rebels in the driving seat, when they lead all the way to take a full house, Cory Gathercole and Holder claiming a 5-1.

Unfortunately that was as good as it got for the Rebels, from that point on their challenge fell apart, as they did not return another heat advantage in the final six heats.

The Potters owed their win in no small part to their two reserves, providing 27 paid 32 between them. Cory Gathercole and Ritchie Hawkins were the highlights, with disappointing performances from Shane Parker and Lubos Tomicek, especially with Sam Masters missing from the line up.

The Rebels visit Redcar tonight (Thurs) and the return fixture is the following evening at the Oak Tree Arena.

Somerset Rebels 48

Sheffield Tigers 45

OVER the seasons, meetings between these two clubs have been tight affairs, with Sheffield holding sway at the Oak Tree Arena for many years, and this renewal proved to be another thriller.

With Sam Masters in Poland, to contest the World Under-21 Championship round, the Rebels were forced to use rider replacement, against a full strength Sheffield side. For the second week on the trot the Rebels introduced a new rider to their line-up, as James Holder joined from Stoke to replace injured Tommy Allen.

The home side appeared to have got off to a dream start as Lubos Tomicek led from the tapes in heat 1, followed by Ritchie Hawkins, but things got tight off the second turn, and Hugh Skidmore hit the floor.

The referee had no choice but to stop the race to allow him to clear the track, and promptly excluded him. It was a different story in the re-run, and although Tomicek again made a good start, he was no match for Tigers skipper Ricky Ashworth, who blasted from the tapes to lead all the way, and share the points.

The reserve heat seemed to heading the Tigers way, as Paul Cooper cruised past Rebels debutant James Holder. Baseby made up the lost ground, but just failed to grab a Rebels full house late on.

Shane Parker made a great start to get the better of Josef Franc in the opening turn, with Ritchie Hawkins close up. Josh Auty came charging through the inside, but try as he might he could never get on terms with the Rebels skipper, as the sides shared the points for the second time.

Heat 3 took two attempts to start, Arlo Bugeja led after a level break, with Gathercole close up. For two laps Gathercole stalked Bugeja before cutting back and storming up his inside. He cleverly ran wide, allowing Baseby through to take a maximum return.

Three more shared heats followed and in heat 7 Gathercole clipped Josef Franc's bike. The Czech took an almighty tumble took the short walk to the medical room, where it was discovered he had damaged his ribs, and he was forced to withdraw from the meeting, with Arlo Bugeja taking his place.

The re-run took place with only one Rebels representative, as Gathercole was excluded. James Holder broke alongside Bugeja with Auty close up, but Holder dropped on the pair, clamping them to the kerb, and stopping their early progress.

Gathercole was right back in the action, taking the rider replacement spot in heat 8. Parker and Gathercole giving the Rebels a 33-21 lead.

Eric Boocock sent out Auty in the Black and White for heat 10, and it worked. From the level break the Tigers pair were soon on top, with only Mark Baseby in a challenging position. Auty and his partner Paul Cooper soon had the measure of Baseby, and pulled clear to easily take the 1-8 advantage, putting the Tigers right back in the mix.

Heat 11 saw them further reduce the Rebels lead, but not before they had three attempts to start the race.

Heat 12 saw the visitors nose in front, following a huge crash by Ritchie Hawkins. The race was awarded, with the resulting 1-5 to the Tigers giving them a slender one-point lead late in the piece.

Heat 13 passed with the Rebels unable to wrest back the lead. Gathercole made the best of a level break with Ricky Ashworth to lead wide around the first turn and went to take an easy win with the points shared.

The Rebels were right back in it after Shane Parker took heat 14. Holder held off the determined late challenge of Paul Cooper to bring the Rebels back to the lead by a single point and set up a last heat decider.

Parker got the call for heat 15, alongside Gathercole. For the Tigers, the A team of Auty and Ashworth came to tapes. The Rebels prevailed, and Ashworth's late fall had no influence over the final result.

For the Rebels, Gathercole posted 12 points despite being excluded, but the top spot went to skipper Shane Parker, who not only posted his second double figure score in as many weeks, but also recorded his first paid maximum that won him the Rider of the Night award, from match sponsors, Spearpoint Construction for the second week running.

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