Rebels keep up play-off pressure

Somerset Rebels 53 Scunthorpe Scorpions 40 AFTER failing to bank any points in their last two away matches, the Somerset Sharp Rebels Friday's home match took on added importance in their quest for a top four place.

Somerset Rebels 53

Scunthorpe Scorpions 40

AFTER failing to bank any points in their last two away matches, the Somerset Sharp Rebels' Friday's home match took on added importance in their quest for a top four place.

The Rebels needed all three points in their last Premier League match of the season to keep them in with an outside chance of one of the play-off places. Their opponents, the Scunthorpe Henderson Insurance Scorpions have been in fine form of late, having won their last seven league matches, and were attempting to take a club record eight league wins on the spin, so on the face of it the Rebels were in for a tough time.

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Despite this the Rebels were still defending a 100 per cent home winning record, so they would be in no mood the relinquish that, let alone let the chance of the top four slip away.

The Scorpions arrived with Birmingham's Tomasz Piszcz, as a guest for Magnus Karlsson, in the number one berth, and used rider replacement to cover the absence of Viktor Bergstrom. Piszcz looked a good booking as two weeks ago he recorded an 11-point tally at the Oak Tree Arena for the Brummies.

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The night got off to a great start for the Rebels as Steve Johnston and Simon Walker combined for a 5-1. After the good start the Rebels were unable to pull away as the Scorpions doggedly shared the next three heats. Nick Simmons and Justin Sedgmen were in for Heat 2 against Jerran Hart, and Ritchie Hawkins..

Heat 3 saw Emil Kramer burst from the tapes to lead all the way from Howe and Lambert with Jari M�kinen last. Cory Gathercole in Heat 4, led at the first turn from Carl Wilkinson and Ritchie Hawkins. Nick Simmons made a slow start, and was never able to take the place.

The Scorpions took a couple of points back in Heat 5, as Tomasz Piszcz took advantage of a huge lift at the start that left Emil Kramer last. Piszcz won and Kramer pulled back to take second and Jari M�kinen suffered a second engine failure.

The Rebels restored their four-point advantage immediately as Steve Johnston led from the first bend with Simon Walker in third.

Another advantage followed to take the lead to six points at the end of Heat 7. as Cory Gathercole pulled well clear to take the win, but despite chasing hard, Justin Sedgmen could not turn the advantage into a full house.

Heat 8 has long been the domain of Simon Walker, and as the tapes rose he bolted from the gate, followed closely by Justin Sedgmen on a 5-1. Unfortunately, the red lights came on, in what seemed a perfectly good start. The reason being the exclusion of Ritchie Hawkins, who had been spotted, by the referee, spinning up his back wheel on the start line after the green light had come on, his place being taken by Jerran Hart.

In the re-start Walker got a poor start and Carl Wilkinson blasted from the tapes to take the win with Walker in second.

Heat 9 was shared, as Emil Kramer added his second win of the night with Carl Wilkinson in second and Jari M�kinen's luck got no better, as he caught a huge lift off the line, that virtually ended any hope he had of posting a point.

Over the next two heats the Rebels doubled their lead, starting by adding two points in Heat 10. Steve Johnston took the win with Simon Walker in third.

Cory Gathercole made a great start to Heat 11 to get over the Scorpions pairing of Tomasz Piszcz and Ritchie Hawkins, with Justin Sedgmen in second for a 5-1.

In Heat 12 the Scorpions reacted immediately to the 12-point deficit, and replaced Simon Lambert with Ritchie Hawkins, and sent out fellow reserve Jerran Hart wearing the Black and White. Before the race could start, the clock ran out on Jari M�kinen and Justin Sedgmen replaced him. Hart took the win to give the Scorpions a 7-2 advantage to cut the lead to seven points.

In the next heat the Rebels all but restored the difference, by taking a maximum advantage, Steve Johnston and Cory Gathercole taking the honours.

Heat 14 ended with the points shared, as David Howe took the win over Emil Kramer

The pair were pitted against each other again in the nominated heat, along with Cory Gathercole and Tomasz Piszcz. Gathercole and Howe burst from the line, with Gathercole just getting the lead off the second bend and going on to win.

The final score gave the Rebels the three points they were looking for, and it raised them to third place in the table. Cory Gathercole top scored with a 13+2 paid maximum that saw him lift the Rider of the Night award for the third week running.

So with all the league fixtures complete, and the Rebels next opponents still not decided, the spotlight now shifts to the return of former Rebel Mark Lemon, for his testimonial meeting next Friday. Lemon rode for the Rebels in 2003, in their second season in the Premier League, and he has been a favourite all around the country, since joining the Poole Pirates in 1990.

He has complied an exciting field for his testimonial, with an Australian team of Jason Crump, Jason Lyons, Leigh Adams, Adam Shields, Steve Johnston, Travis McGowan and Lemon himself, managed by Phil Crump up against a Sam Ermolenko managed Rest of the World side consisting of Hans Andersen, Joe Screen, Tai Woofinden, Emil Kramer, Peter Karlsson, James Wright and Kenni Larsen. To add to the big names cricket fan Lemon has enlisted former Australian, and current Somerset captain, Justin Langer to present the prizes. The fun all starts at 7:30pm.

Sheffield Tigers 59

Somerset Rebels 32

THE Rebels suffered a mauling at the hands of the Sheffield Tigers in what was their final away Premier League match of the season.

Somerset got off to the worst possible start as Ashworth and Skidmore headed Johnston into the first bend, and although the Rebel skipper got past Skidmore, and held on to second place.

The Rebels lost the services of reserve Nick Simmons just a race later, following a terrifying high speed fall, when his handle bars snapped. He damaged his coccyx, and was forced to withdraw from the meeting.

Devoid of Simmons' services and with Sedgmen still carrying an arm injury and M�kinen not finding the Sheffield raceway to his liking, Somerset's hopes of avoiding a heavy defeat rested on their top three, Johnston, Kramer and Gathercole, getting among the points.

And while Johnston and Kramer did all they could to stem the tide, Gathercole experienced a rare off night, his fall while leading Heat 9 and then suffering a somewhat harsh exclusion by the referee in Heat 15 when Hall went down somewhat easily just about summing up his evening.

As it was, Sheffield piled up the points and had established a 16-point lead by the half-way stage, having already seen off Somerset's first use of the tactical ride, Gathercole finding no way past the Ashworth-Skidmore combination in Heat 6.

Any hopes of a Somerset fight-back ended with Gathercole's fall while leading Heat 9, albeit he had come under increasing pressure from Sheffield's Richard Hall. Although the Rebels did manage two race advantages in the final six heats, these were merely token gestures, as Sheffield had the match and all three Premier League points well and truly sewn up by the conclusion of Heat 11, to leave the Rebels licking their wounds as they made the long journey back south.

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