Away victory earns semi-final place

PUBLISHED: 09:26 03 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:31 24 May 2010

THE Somerset Mike Manning Audio Rebels produced a fantastic performance away at Mildenhall to beat the home side 53-40 and march on into the Premier League Knockout Cup semi-final for the first time in their history

THE Somerset Mike Manning Audio Rebels produced a fantastic performance away at Mildenhall to beat the home side 53-40 and march on into the Premier League Knockout Cup semi-final for the first time in their history.After being held to just a nine point advantage from Friday's home leg, many Rebel fans would have feared the worst when first, Simon Walker was unable to take up his place in the team due to a back injury sustained in Friday's encounter, and then word came through that Friday's man of the match, Glen Phillips would not be able to ride as his world longtrack meeting had been re-arranged for the same day. Coupled with the match being Emil Kramer's debut for the Rebels, at a track he had never ridden previously, the omens did not look good.Despite these potential setbacks, however, the Rebels turned in probably their best-ever away performance to totally outclass the Fen Tigers, who were tasting defeat at their West Row circuit for the first time this season. The die was cast right from the off as Kramer took the chequered flag in the opening heat, the best possible way to start his time as a Rebel, and with Magnus Zetterstrom following Kramer over the line in second place, the Rebels were on their way.Inspired by the dynamic Swedes' performance in that opening heat, the Somerset reserves, Ben Baker, fresh from his success in the Conference League Fours Championship the previous night, and Lee Smart, a late call up for the injured Simon Walker, replicated the performance and after just two heats, Somerset had established an eight-point advantage on the night, 17 points on aggregate.From there on in it was a case of total Somerset domination as the Rebels provided 11 of the 15 race winners and recorded five maximum heat victories, every one of the team at least being paid for a heat win, Somerset finally running winners on aggregate 105-83."This performance was absolutely fantastic," said a delighted Magnus Zetterstrom after the meeting. "We messed up at Mildenhall earlier in the season in the Premier Trophy and we wanted to make amends to the fans for that. All the guys rode as I know they can, and when we do that we are more than a match for anyone."Somerset's opponents in the semi-finals are yet to be determined, the winners of the Newport-Edinburgh tie then face Sheffield in the quarter-final for that honour.Somerset 52, Mildenhall 43A GOOD sized crowd were treated to a cracking Knockout Cup match at the Oak Tree Arena, but despite providing 11 of the heat winners, the Rebels could not put away a spirited Mildenhall side. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction for the home supporters as Zetterstrom and Phillips took a maximum heat victory in the opening heat, Phillips making a nice pass on Lyons to join his skipper at the front. Then a bizarre Heat 2 brought the Fen Tigers level, after three attempts to run the race. The first attempt saw Mildenhall's Burchatt penalised for touching the tapes and him starting off 15 metres behind in the re-run. However, the second attempt lasted just 30 metres as Somerset's Simon Walker flipped as the bikes left the tapes, leaving the Bristolian with possible pelvic injuries that forced him out of the meeting in its latter stages. The fans, having thought they had now seen everything, were in for a further surprise as Somerset's Ben Barker, holding a comfortable second place behind Armstrong suffered an engine failure on the third lap.Despite Burchatt flashing past the stricken Rebel, Baker had the presence of mind to push his bike for the final lap, and encouraged by his team-mates the youngster recorded a point for third place, which could be vital in the final outcome of this tie.As the meeting reached its half-way point, the home side had gained the upper hand, Zetterstrom as immaculate as ever, and Cunningham showing the fans some classic outside passes over the opposition.Heat 9 was another of those Oak Tree Classics as Katt, Phillips and Werner rode three abreast for the first 2.5 laps, with no quarter asked or given before Werner gained the upper hand, only for Katt to come past the American, swooping round the outside on the final bend in a breath-taking race.With the Rebels 12 points to the good after Heat 10, the Fen Tigers resorted to the black and white tactical move, Jason Lyons the first to try for double points, to be followed by Daniel King a heat later. These had the effect of reducing the Somerset lead to just seven points, but this was short-lived as Zetterstrom and Cunningham teamed up to record their second maximum heat victory of the night, but a Jason King victory in the penultimate heat left the tie even poised for the return leg on Sunday when the teams resume battle in the quest for a place in the semi-finals.

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