Speedway: Rebels host play-off rivals Sheffield
PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 August 2019
Four points, two places and Redcar separate the Somerset 'Cases' Rebels from fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield with the two sides meeting at the Oak Tree Arena on Wednesday night.
Whilst Somerset currently hold one of the four play-off spots, the Steel City club sit just one place outside the zone and know that they must find some good away form if they are to qualify for the play-offs.
Of their remaining five matches, four are on the road commencing with their trip to the Oak Tree which means a swift return for start-of-season Rebel Todd Kurtz.
The Australian fell victim to the numbers game when Rebels team manager Garry May was obliged to reshape his side after the double resignations of Valentin Grobauer and Henry Atkins at the end of July.
May's shake-up brought Nick Morris back to Somerset offering the Rebels a stronger top four but that meant a mid-order rider having to give way, hence Kurtz's departure.
But the move came just at the right time for Kurtz, a former Sheffield rider, as they too were looking to make strategic changes and Kurtz fitted their mould perfectly, whilst the Tigers also drafted in another ex-Somerset performer, Justin Sedgmen.
With their skipper, Kyle Howarth another to have Oak Tree experience under his belt the Rebels will be acutely aware of the threat that the Tigers pose in Somerset's penultimate home league match of the campaign.
Team boss May said: "I think we saw in the results last week that we can't take Sheffield lightly. They demolished Glasgow on Sunday and whilst I acknowledge that they were at home, to beat such a solid side as Glasgow shows that they have something about them and we must respect that.
"However, we really need to win this meeting and should we stop them picking up a point in the process then we would be seven points clear of them.
"With their visits to Glasgow, Eastbourne and Edinburgh you could challenge where they would be able to make up that difference, but on the other hand, if they were to turn the tables on us then it would leave us with a great deal to do to cement our place in the top four."
Alongside those three former Rebels, Sheffield also have the solid scoring Danny King and the newly-crowned British U19 champion Drew Kemp at either end of their team and are completed by Zaine Kennedy and Josh MacDonald, the latter moving into the main body of their side for the first time this season.
Somerset will be unchanged for the fixture with U19 bronze medalist Anders Rowe occupying the berth left vacant by Kurtz's departure, a position from which he has been scoring well beyond expectations.
The club will be staging their annual collection on behalf of the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund during the course of the evening and the usual Kids for Free continues, as it has all season.
Teams, Somerset: Nick Morris, Anders Rowe, Rory Schlein, Nico Covatti, Chris Harris (Capt), Luke Harris, Nathan Stoneman.
Sheffield: Danny King, Josh MacDonald, Todd Kurtz, Justin Sedgmen, Kyle Howarth(Capt), Zaine Kennedy, Drew Kemp.