THE Somerset Rebels have arranged a special challenge match at the Oaktree Arena for this Friday (April) evening when they face a Plymouth Devils Select side.

Plymouth have recently announced that they are suffering from financial concerns, to the extent that they have taken a ‘step back’ from racing having completed just one League Cup match so far this season which saw them lose 50-40 at Rye House, but as Somerset promoter Debbie Hancock explains, the Rebels wanted do something which may help the Plymouth riders.

She said: “Plymouth’s current plight is well documented, and here at Somerset we felt that with their riders being left in a state of limbo as they wait to see what happens, it would be good to arrange this challenge match in order that the Plymouth riders can have some competitive laps and earn themselves a bit of money in the process.

“The only doubt for the Plymouth septet is Kyle Newman as he might be required to go to Poland for some training with his Polish club, but apart from possibly Kyle, we will have a full strength Plymouth team coming up to the Oaktree Arena, and hopefully the Plymouth fans will travel up in force to give their team the support they deserve.

“On paper Plymouth had a team which had the potential to be up there with the best of them this year,” said Somerset team manager Garry May.

“There has always been a bit of local West Country rivalry between the Devils and ourselves, so although this is billed as a challenge match, I am sure that the Plymouth boys will still want to put one over us.”

Somerset will be without the services of Paul Starke for the match as he will be required to ride for Elite League Leicester on the same night.

With the Rebels’ challenge match against the Plymouth Select side being classed as a re-arranged fixture, Somerset have to relinquish their priority in respect of Starke and will, therefore, operate rider replacement in his absence with all bar Rohan Tungate and Josh Grajczonek eligible to take his rides.

Following the main match, there will be a second half four rider a-side, six-heat challenge match between teams representing the Exeter Falcons and the Somerset Rebels, for whom Henry Atkins, for so long the Somerset Rebels team mascot, will be making his senior debut.