Rebels maintain unbeaten home record

Somerset Rebels 48 , Sheffield Tigers 42 - HISTORY dictated that the Somerset Sharp Rebels were likely to have a hard fought match with the visit of the Sheffield Window Centre Tigers.

Somerset Rebels 48

Sheffield Tigers 42

HISTORY dictated that the Somerset Sharp Rebels were likely to have a hard fought match with the visit of the Sheffield Window Centre Tigers.

From the Rebels beginnings in the Conference League, Sheffield have been something of a bogey team, with several victories at the Oak Tree Arena to their credit.

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On Friday, the teams produced an enthralling match in which there was never more than four points between them at any point, and it was Heat 13 before the Rebels eeked out a small lead.

On the personnel front, the Rebels drafted in Nick Simmons as a temporary replacement for the departed Jay Herne, and the Tigers operated rider replacement, with the Rebels' Brendan Johnson being included as the Tigers number eight if required.

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The opening heat Ricky Ashworth and new boy Hugh Skidmore took an early lead. Steve Johnston came powering through to take second from Skidmore with Nick Simmons taking another lap to grab, what earlier had looked like, an unlikely share of the points.

The reserves' heat made matters worse for the Rebels as the Tigers gated quickly to lead from the line. Despite chasing hard, Tom Brown could not get in a blow, and Justin Sedgmen retired on the second lap as Paul Cooper and former Rebel Chris Mills took a maximum advantage for the visitors.

The Rebels repayed the compliment in the restarted Heat 3, Simon Walker and Emil Kramer taking the honours.

Heat 4 brought Cory Gathercole and Justin Sedgmen to the tapes, against Chris Mills and Paul Cooper. Gathercole's stormed outside and Sedgmen gave the Rebels the advantage as he went round Cooper on the third bend, before Sedgmen retired for the second time in two races.

Emil Kramer and Simon Walker re-appeared in Heat 5, only to find themselves on the wrong end of a 5-1 at the hands of Ricky Ashworth and Hugh Skidmore.

Three more shared heats followed, with the Rebels taking two heat wins to the Tigers one. Steve Johnston took the first win in Heat 6 from Richard Hall and Paul Cooper got the better of Nick Simmons to share the points.

Cory Gathercole added a second win in Heat 7, over Richard Hall, who was out for the second heat in a row. And Joel Parsons took third from Tom Brown.

Hugh Skidmore took Heat 8 from the Rebels Justin Sedgmen with Simmons in third.

The Rebels brought the scores level in Heat 9 with their second maximum of the match, Kramer and Walker doing the damage.

The Tigers reinstated their lead in the next heat. Richard Hall and Joel Parsons overcoming Steve Johnston and Nick Simmons

Ricky Ashworth lowered Cory Gathercole's colours for the first time in a re-run Heat 11, Heat 12 went to Simon Walker, with Justin Sedgmen behind Joel Parsons in third.

The Rebels got their noses in front with a full house in Heat 13. Steve Johnston and. Cory Gathercole taking the honours. Heat 14 almost spelled disaster for the Rebels as Hall and Mills broke quickly, leaving Emil Kramer and Tom Brown on the wrong end of a 5-1, but Richard Hall caught a huge lift, and took an extremely heavy fall.

In the re-run Tom Brown took an early lead after a great start from Chris Mills and Emil Kramer was not far behind, and with the scores at 43-41 in the Rebels favour, the Tigers were still in with a chance of taking the match, and were guaranteed at the least a point from the meeting

In the nominated heat the Rebels tracked Cory Gathercole and Steve Johnston, with the Tigers sending out Ricky Ashworth and Paul Cooper. Gathercole made the early running, and clamped Ashworth to the kerb. Johnston came with a wide run to take Ashworth's second spot on the third turn, but before the next lap was out Ashworth forced his way back past the Rebels skipper to regain his place. Johnston redoubled his efforts and back in the runner-up spot by the next bend.

With the Rebels not appearing to be right at the top of their game the Tigers gave them a hard fought match. The normally powerful top end of the Rebels team, with the exception of Cory Gathercole, had a quiet night by their standards. Although Johno scored 11+2, he only managed one heat win, likewise Emil Kramer can normally be relied on for at least three wins, but he was another whose fortunes only saw him produce the single win. Simon Walker looked to be getting back to his best around the Highbridge circuit, and Cory Gathercole pitched in a superb performance, only dropping a single point all night,

In the end the Rebels retained their unbeaten home record, and extend the record start to the season by another match, but the Tigers came close to ending that run, and fully deserved the point they took back to Owlerton.

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