Speedway: Leicester 51 Somerset 39
PUBLISHED: 09:23 25 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:23 25 August 2019
The Cases Somerset Rebels couldn't deny SGB Championship leaders Leicester their target of a 100 per cent home league record as they extended their advantage at the top of the table to a double-figure margin on Saturday.
Whilst the home side were good value for their win, the Rebels will reflect on a crucial heat five decision that saw Nick Morris harshly disqualified in a first bend battle where he was left no room amongst his three compatriots - Ty Proctor, Ryan Douglas and tactical substitute Rory Schlein.
The popular view was an all-four back re-run but debutant referee Simon Humphrey-Kennett called it differently, deciding Morris fell on his own accord, leaving Schlein to commendably fight a lone-battle in the restart.
The sublime Schlein, deputising as captain for Chris Harris who was enduring a miserable night in the GP Challenge in Gorican, Croatia, found himself again without a partner five heats later when Nico Covatti, with whom he had collected the Rebels' first heat advantage in heat seven, locked up as the riders shaped up to enter the back straight.
Lions' Ellis Perks was unable to avoid the Rebels number four and both went down heavily but Schlein's response again was superb as he blasted from the tapes and took his third win from four outings.
By this stage the Rebels were trailing by 16 points and just how crucial that heat five call was became evident when Morris stormed to a sub-62 second heat win in heat 11.
For a lap and a half in that heat Morris' partner Anders Rowe had the audacity to lead Lions' skipper Scott Nicholls, the 17 year-old then holding on comfortably for a point to knock two points off the deficit.
Schlein's fourth win was a formality in heat 12 and there was still a mathematical chance of a Rebels point on the night, if they could reduce the margin by a further eight points across the final three heats.
But when Nicholls and Lions' guest Kyle Howarth outgated Morris and Rebels' guest Steve Worrall in heat 13 it meant a point-less evening for the Rebels, but even so the fighting spirit instilled by team boss Garry May meant they refused to give up.
Covatti and Nathan Stoneman delivered a 4-2 advantage in the penultimate heat and then Morris and Schlein partnered up again in heat 15. This time, Schlein had to work hard to win the exchanges with Douglas but he did so with style as Somerset closed out with their only 5-1 of the evening.
Team boss May said: "It could well have been a different picture had we been able to see both our riders compete in that fifth heat.
"An advantage from that one would have changed the whole shape of the meeting but the person that makes the decision saw it different to most. But what a performance from Rory again!
"The guy wants it so much for Somerset. His attitude is great and he really wants the success. He was caught out by Proctor in his first ride but was simply awesome in his other five.
"You just can't help wondering that maybe, with a partner in five and ten we would have taken a point. But it wasn't to be and now we just move on to Wednesday and look to complete our home league matches with a win over Edinburgh."
Leicester: Kyle Howarth 9+2, Ellis Perks 8+1, Ty Proctor 7+1, Ryan Douglas 9, Scott Nicholls 9, Joe Lawlor 2+1, Connor Mountain 7+3.
Somerset: Nick Morris 8+1, Anders Rowe 2, Rory Schlein 17, Nico Covatti 4, Steve Worrall 6, Luke Harris 1, Nathan Stoneman 1.