Sunday, June 8, 2014
Fresh from their 40-point home win over Rye House the previous night, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels travelled to Hoddesdon on Saturday evening for the return fixture against the Rockets and produced a stunning 58-37 win which moved the Rebels up into third place in the Premier League table, writes Ian Belcher.
With Stuart Robson deputising for Nick Morris, who was away representing Australia in the semi-final of the Under-21 World Cup, the Rebels took the lead from the off as Robson headed home favourite Edward Kennett, and with Charles Wright picking up the point for third place, it saw Somerset draw ‘first blood’ as they took an early two point lead.
Heat 2 saw Somerset double that advantage with Paul Starke taking the race win for the Rebels ahead of Rye’s Jason Bunyan while Todd Kurtz held off Ben Morley for to third place.
Unbeknown at the time, this was to be the start of what was to be a fantastic evening for the 23-year-old Starke, who, by the time the meeting had ended, would have gone on to secure his first-ever maximum at Premier League level, as he went on to complete his four rides having been unbeaten by an opposition rider.
Having established a foothold in the match, Somerset then started to ‘turn the screw’ and a maximum 5-1 race win in heat four courtesy of Olly Allen and Paul Starke, coupled with a 4-2 in heat 5 put the Rebels 10 points to the good, and had the Rockets reaching for the black and white helmet colour in heat six with Edward Kennett given the responsibility of coming out on a double point tactical ride in order to try and get the home side back into the match.
The move was a partial success with Kennett duly taking the six points for the win with race-partner Luke Bowen picking up an additional point for third place, but any hopes the home Rye House faces might have harboured that this might signal a fight-back by the Rockets were soon dashed as Wright and Starke combined for a maximum race win in heat eight to take Somerset back out into a nine-point lead.
By now Somerset were in total control and piled the misery upon the Rockets as they hit the home side with three 5-1 race wins over the course of four heats, they making sure of the meeting victory as early as the conclusion of heat 12, with all four match points being guaranteed with Allen and Robson’s maximum race win a heat later.
With Starke wrapping up his paid maximum in the penultimate heat as he followed team mate Pontus Aspgren across the finishing line, this after having to battle through from the back to do so, it left Rye House with the scant consolation of securing a heat advantage in the final race of the night, it being only their second such heat advantage of the match, but it mattered not to the jubilant Rebels as they were already celebrating a famous victory, it being Rye House’s heaviest home defeat in some 23 years, much to the delight of team manager Garry May;
“This was just truly an awesome performance,” he said afterwards, “the boys really set about Rye House and right from the off there was only ever one team in it.” “Everyone played their part but I am especially pleased for Starkey getting his maximum, he has improved tremendously since the start of the season, but in saying that, this was an all-round team performance and one that the boys can be justifiably proud of.”
Rye House: Edward Kennett 13 (5 rides), Luke Bowen 1 (3r), Ritchie Hawkins [guest] 12 (5r), Steve Boxall 1+1 (4r), Zdenek Simota [guest] 3 (4r), Jason Bunyan 5 (5r), Ben Morley [guest] 2 (4r)
Somerset: Stuart Robson [guest] 12+2 (5r), Charles Wright 8 (4r), Brady Kurtz 9 (5r), Pontus Aspgren 7+1 (4r), Olly Allen 10 (4r), Todd Kurtz 3+1 (4r), Paul Starke 9+3 (4r)