Rebels defeat reigning champions

SPEEDWAY - Somerset Rebels 50 - Edinburgh Monarchs 40 - YOU will have to go a long way to find a speedway meeting as good as this with 15 heats of top quality action.

Somerset Rebels = 50

Edinburgh Monarchs = 40

YOU will have to go a long way to find a speedway meeting as good as this with 15 heats of top quality action.

The start of the meeting was delayed for some 30 minutes or so as both Somerset's Emil Kramer and Thomas Jonasson of Edinburgh were caught up with flight problems in Sweden, Kramer eventually making it to the Oak Tree Arena in time for his second ride, but unfortunately for the Monarchs, Jonasson never got off the ground after trying to find an alternative flight from Berlin.

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Edinburgh drafted in the services of Somerset asset Matt Bates, who happened to be at the Oak Tree Arena looking to try out a new engine after the meeting.

The meeting though was well worth the wait, but it could not have started any worse for the Rebels as they were forced to track Justin Sedgmen in the opening heat in place of Kramer, and Edinburgh took full advantage of the situation as Fisher and Wethers. It all went wrong for Simon Walker as the three riders took to the pits turn on the third lap, Walker's chain snapped sending him crashing to the ground.

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Having just returned from a shoulder injury, the Somerset fans held their breath, as Walker lay prostrate on the ground before he finally got to his feet, but the Rebels worst fears were realised when it was announced that Walker would take no further part in the meeting with a reoccurrence of that shoulder injury.

Edinburgh's Aaron Summers rode four excellent laps to deny Justin Sedgmen any chance of coming past into the lead. But with Tom Brown, who had been suffering with flu in the days leading up to the match, taking third place a share of the spoils ensued to maintain Edinburgh's four point advantage.

Whilst on the face of it, Cory Gathercole's 'tape to flag' victory in heat 4 might have looked routine enough, it does not tell the terrific effort he had to put in to hold off the attentions of both Rajkowski and Tully who put him under constant pressure for the whole race.

The Rebels got themselves back on level terms in heat 5 as Somerset's Steve Johnston, and Sedgmen followed his skipper home for Somerset's first maximum heat win of the night.

Edinburgh immediately hit back but not in the circumstances they would have wished. Gathercole chased Ryan Fisher and as the pair entered the final turn he clipped the Edinburgh rider's back wheel, causing his machine to 'straighten up' and hurtle towards the safety fence.

The bike hit it with such force that both the fence and the machine were total write-offs and judging by the way Gathercole himself was flung through the air.

Amazingly, just a few seconds after finally coming to a halt, Gathercole get to his feet, dusted himself down and walked away from the incident as if nothing had happened.

The heat result itself seemed a minor issue following an incident such as this, but with Gathercole's 'excursion' to the safety fence it meant that Edinburgh had their second 5-1 of the night under their belts.

Heat 6 finally saw the welcome sight to all Somerset fans of Emil Kramer emerging from the pits to take his place at the tapes. The super cool Swede flew out of the tapes and into the lead, backed up by Sedgmen in second place for another maximum heat win for the home side.

In comparison to the first six races, heat 7 was a relatively tame affair, with Steve Johnston taking a tape to flag victory, but with Brown holding sway over the omnipresent Rajkowski for third place, putting Somerset in the lead for the first time in the match.

Wethers and Summers put the visitors back into the lead with a maximum heat win over the Somerset pairing of Sedgmen and Brown.

Heats 9 and 10, though, were to prove to be the turning point in the match as Somerset recorded consecutive maximum heat victories of their own, the first of these seeing Gathercole showing no ill effects of his earlier crash by storming to victory.

With the final third of the meeting to go, Somerset were now six points to the good, the biggest lead either team had managed to establish so far in this epic encounter, and that's how it remained following heat 11, Johnston making it three wins out of three and in the process inflicting the first defeat of the night on the potent Fisher/Wethers partnership for Edinburgh.

That six point lead became a slightly more comfortable eight in heat 12, but it was that man Sedgmen, continuing the superb form. Herne picked up the point for third place, holding off Summers in doing so, and with three heats remaining, Somerset led the reigning Premier League Champions 40-32.

The first attempt to run heat 13 lasted as far as the first bend, Fisher coming to grief as the three riders, Bates being unable to take his place in the line up, all got to the bend at the same time.

At the second time of asking, it was Fisher who made the gate and held the lead for the first lap before Johnston made a sublime inside pass on the American as the riders took to the first turn for the second time.

Eventually it was Fisher who gained enough of an advantage to take second place, but with Edinburgh now 10 points in arrears, the 'black and white' double point tactical move beckoned for the Monarchs.

Pole, Michal Rajkowski was given the responsibility of trying earn his side double points. However, with Sedgmen having completed his maximum of seven rides, the only option left for Somerset team manager, Ronnie Russell, was to start Gathercole off a 15-metre handicap.

Brown summoned up his last reserves and shot from the tapes heading both Summers and tactical man Rajkowski in the process. As they entered the final lap, Gathercole was past Rajkowski, the double point move heading quickly southwards, and by the time the riders flashed over the finishing line he was only inches from snatching second place from Summers.

With the match and all three points safely in Somerset hands, one could be forgiven if the there was a let up in the action for the 15th and final heat, but that was not in the script as far as the four riders who took to the tapes were concerned.

What followed can only be described as four laps of pure breathtaking action as the field of, Kramer and Johnston for Somerset, Fisher and Wethers for Edinburgh went wheel to wheel. It was Wethers who just took the race win, with little more than two bike lengths between first and last at the chequered flag.

In the final analysis, Somerset took the honours 50-40, but the real winners were the sport of speedway itself and the fans.

The Rebels general manager is set to make a special announcement on Friday in the Oak Tree Clubhouse after the conclusion of the Rebels quarter-final KO Cup tie against Rye House about the future of the Club's rider asset base.

Croucher said: "I am sure that what we, as a club, have spent the last few weeks putting together will please the fans very much and I urge them all to be in the clubhouse for a special press conference when we shall be announcing our first signing for the 2010 season."

"In addition to that, there will further good news about securing a road to success 'On Track' for the second two years of my initial three year agreement with the Hancock family.

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