Somerset Rebels race to healthy KO Cup quarter-final first leg lead

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Co

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Colin Burnett - Credit: Archant

Somerset Rebels raced to a 52-38 success over Poole Pirates in the first leg of the SGB Premiership KO Cup quarter final, writes Dave Thompson.

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Co

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Colin Burnett - Credit: Archant

The weather conditions, at the Oaktree Arena, were in stark contrast to those which caused the postponement of the originally scheduled running of the match on Good Friday!

A bright, but breezy and cold evening greeted the two teams and their supporters, as both the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels and Poole Pirates fielded full-strength septets. The track looked in good condition, but with considerably more dirt on it than the first home meeting against the Leicester Lions.

Poole visited the Highbridge base of the Rebels on the back of a shaky start to the season, whilst the Rebels were hosting only their second home fixture of the season. Despite the lack of home shale fixtures, it was the Rebels who made the better start, catching the Pirates cold, as they quickly opened up an 8-point lead after just two heats.

Jake Allen blazed from the traps to lead from the get-go of Heat 1, and by the time they had reached the turn, Jason Doyle had neatly dropped into second place on Allen’s back wheel. From that point on, with Brady Kurtz and Kacper Woryna toiling in their wake, it was just a matter of how far they would win, and win they did, with Allen leading the way home to a maximum advantage.

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Co

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Colin Burnett - Credit: Archant

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Heat 2 didn’t get any better for the Pirates, as once again they were caught napping at the gates. Rebels latest signing, Jonas Jeppesen flashed from the tapes to lead every inch of the way, to score his maiden win in Rebels colours. Behind him, Bradley Wilson-Dean raced to the turn with James Shanes, but by the second bend, he had powered around the wide line to leave his Pirates counterpart for dead. That was the race in a nutshell, with the Rebels duo pulling away to post a second successive ‘Full House’, and go 8-points clear of their rivals.

Former Rebels captain, and now captain of the Pirates, Josh Grajczonek was quickly into his stride, being pressed by 2017 Pirate and now a Rebel, Jack Holder to the turn. Grajczonek prevailed at the bend, with Holder and Charles Wright close up. Wright’s chances disappeared as he ran wide and locked up at the next bend, allowing Linus Sundstrom through on the inner. As Grajczonek pulled away, Sundstrom pressed Holder over the second lap, after Holder had also run wide at the same spot as Wright had done a lap previously. Holder quickly shrugged off the challenge, and the race settled to give the visitors their first heat advantage, with a 2-4, to cut the deficit by two points.

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There was an early grading break, at the request of the riders, after they had expressed concerns at the amount of dirt on the inside line. Once completed, the meeting resumed with Bradley Wilson-Dean and Peter Kildemand racing side-by-side to the first curve. As they reached the bend, Wilson-Dean took to the wide line, powering by the Dane as they hit the back straight. Wilson-Dean pulled away, as Kildemand had no answer to his pace. Richard Lawson was slowly away and looked tentative at the back, clearly uncomfortable with the track conditions, as the heat points were shared.

Heat 5 saw the field break level, with Kacper Woryna hitting the front on the first turn. Jack Holder took up the chase, despite running very wide on the second bend. Brady Kurtz slipped inside Charles Wright off the final turn of the lap, before closing down Holder and throwing in a challenge on the second bend of Lap 2. Holder repelled the challenge, but the Pirates ran out their second heat advantage in three heats. Wright struggled at the rear, before retiring on the final lap.

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Co

Action from the Somerset Rebels KO Cup quarter-final first leg win over Poole Pirates. Picture by Colin Burnett - Credit: Archant

The riders were still unhappy with the condition of the track, particularly the inside line, and asked for an extended period of grading, to remove some of the material from the inside, and moving it to the outside. Jason Doyle came out to explain the situation, and how long it would take to do the remedial work on the track.

Thirty minutes later, the work having been completed, the meeting resumed with Heat 6. As the tapes rose three riders broke together, Jake Allen, Jason Doyle & Peter Kildemand. Doyle powered through the inside, heading the field off the second bend. Kildemand also used an inside run around the same two turns to relegate Allen to third place. As Doyle pulled away at the front, Allen tried but failed to peg back Kildemand, as the race ran out to another heat win for the Rebels.

Richard Lawson looked much more comfortable with track conditions in Heat 7, bolting from the line, he made every yard a winning one, never being headed from the ‘Off’, and pulling out a bigger and bigger lead with every turn of his wheels. Josh Grajczonek and Linus Sundstrom raced close together, whilst Jonas Jeppesen, who was close up early on, took an enormous lift off the second bend of Lap 2, which put paid to any chance he had of catching the Pirates pair, leaving the points to be shared.

Jake Allen regained winning ways, with a rapid exit from the tapes in Heat 8. Leading from the first curve, Allen was never challenged, but behind him, a battle raged between Bradley Wilson-Dean and Kacper Woryna. The pair metaphorically knocked lumps off each other for the whole race, never very far apart. Just as it looked that Wilson-Dean had tied up second place, Woryna stuck his back wheel in the dirt, which, in the earlier extended grading session had been moved to the outside. He steamed around the wide line, closing with massive speed around the final turns of the race. As they ran to the line, the Polish rider gradually narrowed the gap, until the pair flashed over the line, locked together. When referee Dave Watters announced the result, it was Woryna who had prevailed and prevented the Rebels from posting their third maximum advantage of the night, but he couldn’t thwart the Rebels from re-establishing an 8-point lead.

Heat 9 took two attempts to get a result, with the first running called back after Peter Kildemand and Charles Wright clashed in a tight first turn, resulting in Wright taking a nasty looking tumble, ending up stuck under the air fence. Dave Watters put all four back for the re-run, but only three completed the course.

Ironically it was Kildemand who failed to finish the race, falling on his own on the third turn of the opening lap, remounting, but retiring before the flag. As it happened, the race was already virtually settled before Kildemand’s fall, as Jack Holder was quickly into his stride, from James Shanes and Kildemand. Wright took full advantage of a gap on the inside, to power under the Pirates pair on the second turn, to give the Rebels a maximum advantage they weren’t to lose.

Now 12-points in arrears, the Pirates needed to do something quickly, and they did. Josh Grajczonek and Linus Sundstrom blazed away from the tapes in the next heat, leaving the Rebels pairing of Jason Doyle and Jake Allen for dead. Grajczonek took up the running from his teammate on the third turn, and that was the race done, except for Doyle moving into third spot at the end of the second lap.

The Pirates respite didn’t last long, with the Rebels dropping just one point to their opponents in the next two heats. Heat 11 saw a Rebels 4-2 when Richard Lawson jetted from the gates to come over the top of Brady Kurtz on the first bend. A lap later Jonas Jeppesen slipped up the inside of Kacper Woryna to claim third place. With Lawson in the wind, Jeppesen closed in on Kurtz, pressing the Pirates top man all the way. His cause wasn’t helped, when he suffered another huge lift, on the same turn as his Heat 7 excursion, but he never missed a beat, getting the bike down and under control in a flash, continuing to pressure Kurtz to the flag.

This was followed by a maximum advantage, with Charles Wright, Bradley Wilson-Dean & Josh Grajczonek contesting the run to the curve before Wright hit the front as they reached the turn. Wilson-Dean and Grajczonek got involved in a tight battle of elbows in the next turn, with the Pirates skipper coming out worse from the encounter. Grajczonek dropped to the back, before retiring late in the piece. Once Wilson-Dean hit second place, the race was over as a spectacle.

When Brady Kurtz hit the front in Heat 13, with a powerful, wide run in the opening turns, the Pirates again narrowed the gap, with a two point heat advantage. He deposed Jason Doyle with the move, but the World Champion stuck to the task, chasing down Kurtz, moving inside and out trying to find an opening, but Kurtz was up to the moves and fended off the Rebels skipper to the flag. Behind the pair, Richard Lawson had taken up third spot, but he had no answer to the run of Peter Kildemand coming off the final bend of the lap. Kildemand held third place to the line to give the Pirates the heat win.

Once again, as the Pirates cut the gap, the Rebels responded with a maximum heat win. Garry May could have switched Bradley Wilson-Dean for Jonas Jeppesen, but he decided to keep faith in the Rebels new Danish recruit, and that faith was repaid in spades by the young reserve. Jack Holder contested the early running with Linus Sundstrom and Jeppesen, with the former just getting ahead as they reached the bend. Holder headed for the deep stuff on the outside, laying down a power-packed run close to the fence. Holder tore down the back straight, swallowing up Sundstrom before the third turn. Jeppesen was also close up, pressing Sundstrom all the way. He was all over the rear of the Swede’s machine, and as they exited the final turn, he forced Sundstrom into a mistake. Jeppesen needed no second invitation and zipped through the inner, to take up second place behind his team partner, as they headed into the first turn for the second time. From there on he rode a good race to easily kept Sundstrom at bay to the finish, giving the Rebels maximum points.

Jason Doyle was clearly eager to make a good start in Heat 15, but was too previous, ploughing through the tapes. Garry May replaced him with Bradley Wilson-Dean for the re-run. In the restart, the Pirates held the advantage, with Brady Kurtz shooting to an early lead from Jack Holder. Wilson-Dean move Josh Grajczonek wide in the first turn, taking third as he did so, but Grajczonek hit back, and the pair battled it out for the remainder of the race, with nothing between them. In the end, Grajczonek just pipped the Rebels reserve to take a final heat advantage for the Pirates, but leaving the Rebels with a handsome 14-point lead, 52-38, to take into the second leg later in the year.

Currently, Poole are clearly not the side they were, but if history is anything to go by, Matt Ford will not be long in putting that right. On the other hand, the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels produced another superb all-round display, with all members of the team contributing. There were notable offerings from Jack Holder (12pts), who top-scored, Bradley Wilson-Dean with a fantastic paid 10pts (9+1) and Jonas Jeppesen (6+1), who not only rode well all evening but also posted his maiden win in Rebels colours. His performance not only brought praise from team manager Garry May but also won him the ‘Rider of the Night’ award, chosen and presented to him on behalf of the meeting sponsors ‘Utility Advice Bureau’, by 10-year-old Sam Clawes, who was at the Oaktree Arena celebrating his birthday.

The Rebels now return to SGB Premiership league action, with a trip to Rye House on Bank Holiday Monday, followed by a trip to Wolverhampton the following Monday, before returning to the Oaktree Arena for a home fixture against Swindon on Wednesday May 16.

Meeting statistics

Somerset Rebels - 52

1. Jason Doyle - 2*, 3, 1, 2, TE = 8+1

2. Jake Allen - 3, 1, 3, 0 = 7

3. Charles Wright - 0, R, 2*, 2* = 4+2

4. Jack Holder - 2, 2, 3, 3, 2 = 12

5. Richard Lawson - 0, 3, 3, 0 = 6

6. Jonas Jeppesen - 3, 0, 1, 2* = 6+1

7. Bradley Wilson-Dean - 2*, 3, 1, 3, 0 = 9+1

Poole Pirates – 38

1. Brady Kurtz - 1, 1, 2, 3, 3 = 10

2. Kacper Woryna - 0, 3, 2, 0 = 5

3. Josh Grajczonek - 3, 2, 3, 0, 1 = 9

4. Linus Sundstrom - 1, 1*, 2*, 1 = 5+2

5. Peter Kildemand - 2, 2, R, 1 = 5

6. James Shanes - 1, 0, 1, 1 = 3

7. Mateusz Szczepaniak - 0, 1*, 0, 0 = 1+1

SCB Referee: Dave Watters

Heat Details

Heat 01: Allen, Doyle, Kurtz, Woryna (5-1) (5-1) 57.10

Heat 02: Jeppesen, Wilson-Dean, Shanes, Szczepaniak (5-1) (10-2) 57.97

Heat 03: Grajczonek, Holder, Sundstrom, Wright (2-4) (12-6) 57.28

Heat 04: Wilson-Dean, Kildemand, Szczepaniak, Lawson (3-3) (15-9) 57.43

Heat 05: Woryna, Holder, Kurtz, Wright (RET) (2-4) (17-13) 57.92

Heat 06: Doyle, Kildemand, Allen, Shanes (4-2) (21-15) 57.30

Heat 07: Lawson, Grajczonek, Sundstrom, Jeppesen (3-3) (24-18) 58.71

Heat 08: Allen, Woryna, Wilson-Dean, Szczepaniak (4-2) (28-20) 58.07

Heat 09: Holder, Wright, Shanes, Kildemand (RET) (5-1) (33-21) 58.52

Heat 10: Grajczonek, Sundstrom, Doyle, Allen (1-5) (34-26) 58.36

Heat 11: Lawson, Kurtz, Jeppesen, Woryna (4-2) (38-28) 58.83

Heat 12: Wilson-Dean, Wright, Shanes, Grajczonek (5-1) (43-29) 58.97

Heat 13: Kurtz, Doyle, Kildemand, Lawson (2-4) (45-33) 58.02

Heat 14: Holder, Jeppesen, Sundstrom, Szczepaniak (5-1) (50-34) 58.97

Heat 15: Kurtz, Holder, Grajczonek, Wilson-Dean (2-4) (52-38) 58.70

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