Rebels eyeing up the play-offs

SPEEDWAY - Newport Wasps 44 Somerset Rebels 48 - WITH the race to the play-offs hotting up, the Somerset Sharp Rebels arrived at Queensway Meadows with a win on their minds.

SPEEDWAY - Newport Wasps 44

Somerset Rebels 48

WITH the race to the play-offs hotting up, the Somerset Sharp Rebels arrived at Queensway Meadows with a win on their minds.

With Newport Wasps not having been in the best of form this season, including at home, hopes in the Rebels camp must have been high that they could carry away at least three points.

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The introduction of Jari M�kinen on Friday, facilitating the move of Justin Sedgmen to reserve, paid dividends against the Brummies, and it was to have an equally important part to play in this encounter. The Rebels completely dominated the first half of the match, with Sedgmen in particular being absolutely on top of his game.

From the outset the Rebels were right on the front foot, hitting the Wasps hard in the first two races. Steve Johnston took Heat 1 from Justin Sedgmen.

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Sedgmen was out again in Heat 2, this time partnering former Wasp Nick Simmons and the pair picked up another 5-1.

Two shared heats followed, with Emil Kramer taking victory in the first in a re-run and Cory Gathercole added Heat 4.

Heat 5 saw the Rebels push on, with the first of two consecutive 5-1s, both involving Sedgmen, Steve Johnston taking second in that heat and in Heat 6 Sedgmen did it again, with Cory Gathercole behind to give the Rebels a 14-point lead, things looked dire for the Wasps.

The next two heats were shared, with both wins going to home riders. Heat 7 going to Emil Kramer, and James Holder in Heat 8.

In Heat 9, Jonas Andersson and Jordan Frampton made it 5-1 for the Wasps in a re-run after Sedgmen took a heavy fall.

The Wasps took the win in Heat 10 through Leigh Lanham, but the Rebels shared the points. Emil Kramer broke quickly with Jari M�kinen in second.

Justin Sedgmen put the disappointment on a non-scoring race behind him, when he took his third win in Heat 11 Paul Fry in second.

Sedgmen took his seventh and final ride in the next heat, and in a re-run saw off Chris Kerr and Jari M�kinen tangled in the first turn, and M�kinen fell as the American gave him no room at all in the opening bend. It was a hard move, and many in the stadium were surprised to hear the call of 'All Four Back'. In the re-run, Sedgmen got a good start, and ran for the wide line, only to find Kerr, who was wearing the 'Black and White' slip underneath him on the next bend. The Wasps pair than took up station together, and attempted to team ride the Rebels out of the race, but with Sedgmen on fire they had a difficult job on their hands, as the 17-year-old Victorian took his fourth heat win of the day, and returned a superb 15+1 point tally.

The Heat 12 advantage for the Wasps had cut the Rebels lead to 10 points, and it was further reduced as the home side took Heat 13 4-2, a race that gave Paul Fry his 100th win in Wasps colours.

The Wasps were now on a roll and shocked the Rebels with a maximum win in Heat 14. The Wasps replaced Kyle Newman with Chris Kerr, and he broke quickly alongside his team mate Jordan Frampton. Emil Kramer also made a good gate between the pair, but was caught in a pincer movement and got squeezed out. The result had brought the Wasps right back in contention, setting up a last heat decider in the process.

The home side tracked the two Fs, Frampton and Fry, in the nominated heat, while the Rebels sent Johnston and Kramer to the tapes. Fry went down on the second lap and from the referee's perspective it appeared that Kramer had taken out Fry, and was excluded from the re-run.

It was a big boost to the Wasps, as they now had a second chance of at least getting a draw, or even a win should Johnston not complete the race. In the end Johnston won with plenty in hand. The shared points, gave the Rebels the win, and three extremely valuable away points, especially in view of the Wasps late revival.

The Rebels will have the opportunity to add three more points to their tally on Friday, when they take on the Wasps in the return leg of this fixture.

Somerset Rebels48

Birmingham Brummies 42

WHEN Rebels team manager Steve Bishop was riding, the strains of Tina Turner's Simply the Best were heard all across the Oak Tree Arena. No-one would have been surprised if that was now replaced with the same lady's other classic, I Can't Stand the Rain, as recent Rebels clashes with the Birmingham BRC Roofing Brummies have often been affected by the weather.

While the Brummies were back to full strength, with the return of suspended Tomasz Piszcz, and the Rebels were still without injured Simon Walker and Tom Brown and had brought in Jari M�kinen, initially as a short term replacement for Tom Brown, allowing the Rebels to move Justin Sedgmen back to reserve.

The Brummies made a supercharged start, hitting the Rebels with two maximums in the first two heats. Tomasz Piszcz and Rusty Harrison blasted from the gates in Heat 1, and former Rebels Jay Herne and Lee Smart took Heat 2.

The Rebels put their first win on the board in Heat 3 as Emil Kramer made a great start to overcome Ludvig Lindgren for a share of the points.

Heat 4 saw the Rebels make their first breakthrough, when Cory Gathercole and Justin Sedgmen made it 5-1.

Jari M�kinen's first night as a Rebel was not improving, as he was excluded for failing to meet the two-minute allowance in Heat 5, with his place being taken by Nick Simmons.

Tomasz Piszcz won with Emil Kramer and Rusty Harrison took third spot to restore the Brummies eight-point lead.

Heat 6 was shared after Jason Lyons got the better of a tight battle with Steve Johnston. The Rebels locked up the rest of the points as Justin Sedgmen took an easy third spot.

Over the next two heats the Rebels slammed the Brummies, fighting back with two full house maximums to level the match. Firstly Justin Sedgmen and Cory Gaathercole took Heat 7 and Sedgmen and Gathercole took Heat 8 to level the scores.

The Brummies restored their lead, albeit by just two points, in Heat 9, Lyons again doing the damage. Kramer took second and Jay Herne third from Jari M�kinen to take the Brummies back to the front.

The Rebels hit back straight away in Heat 10. Justin Sedgmen, taking his sixth ride in just ten heats with Steve Johnston in second to give the Rebels a 4-2 and level the scores for a second time.

The home side added another 4-2 in Heat 11, with Cory Gathercole taking the win with Nick Simmons in second.

With the Rebels now in a slender two-point lead, the next three heats were all shared, but it might have been so different in Heat 12 had it not been for a Jay Herne dropped chain.

His primary chain let go, straightening him up, and firing him straight into the path of Sedgmen who tried desperately to avoid Herne, which he did, but fell in the process, and the referee had no choice but to re-run the race, without Herne.

In the re-run, Jari M�kinen got the best start for the Rebels, and he rode a superb race to keep Lindgren under pressure, with Sedgmen in third place.

Tomasz Piszcz got the early break to lead Heat 13, with the Rebels pair of Johnston and Gathercole challenging on both sides, but he held them off.

Many thought Heat 14 would be a turning point in favour of the Rebels, as it brought Emil Kramer and Nick Simmons to the tapes, but Richard Sweetman took the win with Nick Simmons in second.

So with the destination of the points still in doubt, the nominated heat arrived. Unsurprisingly the combatants were Johnston and Gathercole for the Rebels, and Piszcz and Lyons for the Brummies. As the tapes rose Jason Lyons broke quickly with Cory Gathercole on his outside, but Steve Johnston took over the lead on the back straight with Gathercole in second to put an emphatic finish to the Brummies chances of taking an away win.

So the Rebels had dug deep, and recorded their 40th match unbeaten at the Oak Tree, a sequence that stretches back to April of last year.

King's Lynn Stars 59

Somerset Rebels 33

WITH King's Lynn having only lost once at home in almost 150 matches, perhaps is was not entirely unexpectedly that Rebels would be the next notch on that statistic, but if ever there were a case of the final score line not reflecting the nature of the match, then this was it.

After the opening four heats, the Rebels found themselves 12 points in arrears, but it could have been so much different but for a sublime move by Australian Darcy Ward on Steve Johnston, which turned what had looked to be a drawn heat into a 4-2 for the home side. Then, two heats later, Emil Kramer over-cooked his exit from the fourth bend on the second lap and a potentially drawn heat became a maximum heat win for the Stars.

To their credit, the Rebels got themselves back into the match by taking advantage of a series of misfortunes that befell the King's Lynn riders. With Schramm, Ward and Ekl�f suffering mechanical gremlins in three out the next four heats, Somerset were just six points in arrears at the half way stage. Cory Gathercole had two excellent race wins, and perhaps the Rebels were harbouring thoughts of maybe, just maybe, they could cause what would be the result of the season and go on to win the match.

King's Lynn turned up the wick in the second half, and despite some sterling rides by Sedgmen and Simmons in particular deserving far more points for their efforts than the score-chart shows, there was no stopping the home side as they stamped their authority on this match, banging in heat advantage after heat advantage to put the result beyond doubt with races to spare.

Even so, there was no let-up in the action as Darcy Ward, coming off a 15- metre handicap in Heat 13 rode an inspired race to almost snatch second place on the line, Somerset's Cory Gathercole just doing enough to deny his compatriot the paid win behind his Stars team-mate Tomas Topinka.

Gathercole, by far the best Somerset rider on show, rounded off what had been probably one of his best away performances by winning the 15th and final heat in style to take his personal tally for the match to 14 points, but despite his and the rest of the team's valiant efforts, King's Lynn ran out comfortable and deserved winners on the night.

The Rebels are pleased to announce the signing of the 2007 Finish Under-21 champion Jari M�kinen who joins the Rebels as a 28-day injury replacement for fractured collar-bone victim Tom Brown.

The 19-year-old, who hails from H�meenkyr� in Finland, and is a King's Lynn asset, rode for Mildenhall in the Premier League last year but suffered an ankle injury early on in the season which hampered his scoring returns, he finally returning to his homeland after competing in just 12 official matches for the Fen-Tigers, though crucially only 10 of those counted towards the calculation of his riding average.

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