Rebels too strong for the Islanders

PUBLISHED: 09:31 19 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:28 24 May 2010

Stephan Katt leads Isle of Wight's Chris Johnson.

Stephan Katt leads Isle of Wight's Chris Johnson.

THE Somerset Mike Manning Audio Rebels took to the track safe in the knowledge they had steamrollered their opponents, both home and away, earlier in the season

THE Somerset Mike Manning Audio Rebels took to the track safe in the knowledge they had steamrollered their opponents, both home and away, earlier in the season.However, any thoughts of a repeat must have been pushed firmly to the back of their minds, as the Isle of Wight Wightlink Islanders are now a totally different proposition to the version that contested those early Premier Trophy matches. The backbone of their team has been strengthened by the return of Island favourite Jason Bunyan, in place of Robert Kasprzak; Krister Marsh has recovered from the early season injury he had been carrying; and Aussie Under-21 champion, Chris Holder is producing the kind of form that justifies the rave reviews he had been getting before his arrival on these shores. The home side came into the match without Paul Fry, after he had broken his left leg in last week's clash with Kings Lynn, and operated rider replacement for the popular Hereford racer, with the promising Jordan Frampton at No 8.In the opening four heats both sides suffered mechanical problems, with the Rebels coming off worse with two retirements to the visitors one. But for that the 6-point advantage they enjoyed, 15-9, could have been nearly double that after Glenn Phillips and Stephan Katt had given up points scoring positions to the mechanical gremlins, and in Katt's case, that was a winning position.The meeting opened with the now customary sight of skipper Magnus Zetterstrom winning the opener, this time from Aussie Chris Holder, and reserve Chris Johnson, with Phillips retiring. The race had started badly for the visitors, as second string Jason Doyle had taken an almighty flyer, and carried the tapes with him.The home reserves are starting to make Heat 2 their own, and Friday was no different, as they stormed to a 5-1 advantage straight from the gates, with the victory going to Simon Walker. Phillips had a chance to make amends for his earlier woes as he took the rider replacement ride in Heat 3, and how he made it pay. Stephan Katt made a great start to lead from Krister Marsh, with Phillips in close attendance, only for the German to suffer a similar fate to his partners earlier one at the start of lap two. This left Phillips to pick up the pieces, which he did to great effect, as he stormed under Marsh at the end of the second lap to rescue the heat.Nick Simmons was the next to fall foul of the dreaded gremlins, as he retired from Heat 4, leaving the home side with a 4-2 advantage after Glenn Cunningham outgated Jason Bunyan to take the heat. Overall the next three heats went the way of the Rebels, with two heat advantages to the visitors one. Chris Holder took the re-started Heat 5, but it may have been a different story had Simon Walker not anticipated the original start, with Stephan Katt easily leading the talented young Australian. Walker could not see the magnets because of the glare from the sun, and by his own admission "guessed" the start.Confusion reigned in Heat 6, after Chris Johnson had been excluded under the two minute rule. It was announced that he would run under the 15-meter handicap, then as the remaining three riders milled around waiting for him to appear the Islanders decided to go with only one rider, and then with only seconds to spare on the next two minutes, Nick Simmons appeared on the line, only to be sent back as the referee had already been informed that the visitors would track only one at the tapes. After all that the Rebels took the heat 4-2.The Rebels took Heat 7 by the maximum margin after a wonderful ride by Simon Walker to take second spot. Glenn Cunningham made a fast start from the inside gate with Walker, and Krister Marsh close behind. Walker and Marsh slugged it out side by side, but Walker swooped wide around bend three to finish off the Hereford born rider.Now 10 points down, the Islanders threw in Jason Doyle on a tactical ride, and switched the reserves sending out Johnson for Simmons. Doyle took Heat 8, after a quick start, and was followed out of the gates by Johnson. A 1-8 advantage looked on the cards, but Johnson could not hold his position, as first Phillips, and then Barker reeled him into limit the damage.The Rebels quickly struck back with two 4-2 advantages, with Glenn Cunningham making the most of his rider replacement slot in Heat 10 leading off the first turn after a fairly level break. Jason Bunyan took second followed by Stephan Katt. In Heat 11, three riders, Zorro, Phillips, and Stojanowski broke together, and went three abreast around the opening lap, before Zorro edged out in front on the wide outside of bend four. The other two battled side by side for another half a lap, before the Islanders' skipper stole ahead to take the second spot, but Phillips never gave up, harrying him all the way.Eleven points now separated the teams, and the visitors again looked to the Black and White to pull back the deficit. This time Holder was entrusted with the colours, but like his countryman, Doyle, before him he was only partially successful. Ironically Doyle could not come up with second spot, despite having led from the start. Letting his partner go for the win, he could not hold off a rampant Cunningham, who drove around the outside of final turn of the opening lap to account for him. Ben Barker retired at the rear of the field. That 7-2 advantage brought the gap down to six points at 39-33.The home side hit back immediately with another maximum advantage as Simon Walker and Stephan Katt made it pay from the gate. Behind them Krister Marsh suffered a retirement, leaving Simmons as the only threat, something which he was not. Heat 13 produced another 4-2, with Zorro blasting away from the gates to account for Holder. Glenn Cunningham got the better of Jason Bunyan to fill the minor spot, but not before they had almost had a coming together on the last bend of the opening lap. Cunningham was just delivering his challenge, when Bunyan got out of shape, and was almost collected by the home rider. Stephan Katt took the final rider replacement rider, but had to be content with a share of the points as Krysztof Stojanowski finally came good after a poor evening, as he accounted for Walker in second, followed by Katt.The meeting ended almost as it had started, with Jason Doyle being excluded, this time for exceeding the two minutes, but the result was not the same as Chris Holder got the better of Magnus Zetterstrom. He produced a fine pass around the outside of bend four on the opening lap, something not many rider do to Zetterstrom once he is in front at the Oak Tree Arena. Doyle went off 15 metres, and proved no match for Glenn Cunningham from that mark, eventually retiring.In the end the Rebels ran out winners 54-42, a much bigger margin than many expected in this Mike Manning Audio sponsored tie. Walker's performance, was superb, and deservedly won him the Rider of the Night award, sponsored by Mrs Edna Alison.THE Rebels almost pulled off a shock away win at Workington last Saturday night. Despite going down by three points on the night, the Rebels did have the consolation of taking the bonus point on offer after beating the Comets by 10 points at the Oak Tree Arena earlier in the season.The Rebels made an excellent start to the meeting and after six heats were leading the Cumbrian outfit by two points. However a series of three consecutive 5-1 maximum heat victories to the home side put them in the driving seat, and level on aggregate, with a 10-point advantage.Taking a double point tactical ride in Heat 10, Somerset's Glenn Cunningham raced to his second heat victory of the match, and with German international, Stephan Katt, slotting into third place, it brought the Rebels back to within five points of their hosts. A further heat advantage to Somerset in Heat 11, courtesy of the impressive Magnus Zetterstrom and his partner Glen Phillips cut the arrears to just three points, but despite a valiant effort in the remaining four heats, the Rebels were unable to snatch victory on the night.FOLLOWING their excellent performance the previous evening at Workington, the Rebels moved on to Scotland for a Premier League encounter with the Glasgow Tigers, and again, gave a good account of themselves. As with Workington the previous night, Somerset actually made the better start to the meeting and by Heat 5 had a six-point lead on their rivals, but the home side hit back and by the half way stage of the meeting, the scores were all level. The second half of the match saw Glasgow take control, the match being virtually sealed in favour of the Tigers with a 5-1 maximum heat win in the all-important Heat 13.Somerset team manager Eric Boocock tried a last throw of the dice by nominating Magnus Zetterstrom as a double point tactical substitute in Heat 14 to start off a 15-metre handicap, and although many in the stadium felt that Zorro had done enough to pip Glasgow's Robert Ksiezak on the line for second place, the referee thought otherwise and what could have been a drawn heat became another 5-1 to the Tigers.A consolation 4-2 heat advantage in Heat 15 ensured that the Rebels only faced a 10-point deficit when the two teams meet back at the Oak Tree Arena in July in order to secure the bonus point.By the end of the week's Premier League action the league table showed the Rebels sitting proudly in top spot, and although it is still early days as far as the Premier League is concerned, it gives the Rebels a good platform in their quest to achieve a top eight play-off spot from which the League champions will be decided.

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