Rockets defused by the Rebels
PUBLISHED: 13:46 27 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:03 24 May 2010
SOMERSET Mike Manning Audio Rebels opened their Premier Trophy campaign with a comfortable victory OVER last year's Trophy and League Champions, Rye House. Despite having
SOMERSET Mike Manning Audio Rebels opened their Premier Trophy campaign with a comfortable victory OVER last year's Trophy and League Champions, Rye House. Despite having to use the rider replacement facility for Paul Fry, who was absent due to a family bereavement, the remaining six riders rose to the challenge, and were never seriously threatened by a Rye House team that relied too heavily on Chris Neath and, to a lesser extent, Stuart Robson.The die was cast from the start as home skipper Magnus Zetterstrom powered away to record the first of his four race victories, leaving Stuart Robson in his wake. With Pavel Ondrasik easily accounting for Jamie Courtney, who looked out of his depth in this level, the Rebels took a lead they never relinquished. Heat 2 saw the Somerset reserve pairing of Ben Barker and Simon Walker take maximum points, Barker's heat victory being his first in Rebel colours. He was joined in this feat in the following race when Pavel Ondrasik put last week's starting problem behind him as he led from the tapes to maintain the Rebels advantage.Entering Heat 6, Somerset held a six-point lead, which was extended to eight as Zetterstrom claimed his second race win of the night, but this alone does not tell the story of what was a classic Oak Tree Arena race. With track expert Chris Neath initially gaining the upper hand from the tapes, Zetterstrom soon found himself in his accustomed position at the head of the field. Not to be outdone, Neath fought back to regain the lead, and for the next three laps they continually swapped positions for the lead, until Zorro made the decisive move that saw him take the victory.Cunningham and Walker then secured an easy 5-1 heat advantage in Heat 7, Walker showing the Rebel fans that despite suffering from a virus that left him being sick after every race, he was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League at reserve this year. Trailing by 14 points going into Heat 9, Rye House resorted to use of the tactical ride, with the impressive Chris Neath donning the black and white helmet colour, but although he was able to defeat Cunningham for a second time, he had no answer to Jamie Smith's lightening start, and despite trying every line possible to pass, Smith rode the race with a new found maturity to ensure that the Rockets gained no advantage from the double point move.The Rockets had better luck two heats later when Robson won Heat 11 while on a tactical ride, but even though the visitors claimed a further heat advantage in Heat 12, it was more a case of damage limitation with the return leg of this match due to be raced at Hoddesdon the following night. After these two minor setbacks as far as the Somerset fans were concerned, normal service was resumed in Heat 13 as Zetterstrom and Cunningham took a 5-1 maximum heat win, Cunningham coming round the outside of Neath on the second bend to pass him through a gap that never really existed, except in the eyes of the Bristolian.With the match now safe, all that remained to be seen was how much of a lead the Rebels could take to defend at Hoddesdon, and with Zetterstrom completing his paid maximum in Heat 15, Somerset hit 50 points for the second successive week and ran out deserved winners on the night by 15 points.The Rebels have suffered an early season injury blow with the news that new Czech signing Pavel Ondrasik could be out of action for at least a month with a broken wrist. The injury occurred at the start of Heat 3 in the Premier Trophy match at Rye House on Saturday evening, when Ondrasik collided with the Rockets duo of Edward Kennett and Tommy Allen. The 30-year-old Czech fell awkwardly causing the damage to the wrist.Once the swelling has subsided, Ondrasik will have an operation on the wrist, but initial thoughts are that he will be in plaster for approximately a month.