THE Somerset Rebels take a break from Premier League action this week as they start their defence of the KO Cup with the visit of the Workington Comets to the Oaktree Arena on Friday (May 6) evening, in the first leg of their round one tie against the Cumbrian side.
Somerset won the KO Cup last season in dramatic style against Edinburgh, it being the third time that the club had won the trophy since they moved into the Premier League in 2002, with their first taste of KO Cup glory coming in 2008 when they beat Workington in the two-legged Final.
This season’s first round tie will be the sixth time that the two sides have met in the competition, with Somerset just holding sway with three aggregate victories to Workington’s two, including the aforementioned 2008 final.
Workington come to the Oaktree Arena led by American International Ricky Wells, who is in his third season with the Comets, and have two faces amongst their septet very familiar to the Somerset fans, namely the Danish duo of Claus Vissing and Rasmus Jensen, both of whom have ridden for the Rebels in the past, with Jensen having been a member of the Somerset side which won the KO Cup last year.
The Comets’ top five is rounded out with their third Dane, Kenneth Hansen, and Australian Mason Campton, who has missed last season here in the UK due to visa issues, with the British pairing of Adam Roynon and Matt Williamson occupying the two reserve berths.
Somerset go into the match missing last Friday’s ‘maximum man’ Rohan Tungate who will be in Denmark for his Grand Prix qualifying round which is being staged the following day, and the Rebels have brought in Sheffield’s Kyle Howarth as a guest replacement for the absent Tungate.
Somerset team manager Garry May said: “Rohan was prepared to ride for us on Friday night and then head off to Denmark, but unfortunately timescales meant that there was a possibility he could miss the mandatory ‘signing in’ and official practice for the meeting, and so in order for him to get to Denmark in good time he is having to miss the match on Friday.
“But in Kyle Howarth we have a guest who I know will do a job for us, Kyle used to ride for me at Bournemouth and then he had a short spell here at Somerset and he has never let me down whenever I’ve booked him as a guest replacement, and I know, having spoken to him, that he is eager to do well for us against Workington.”
“As to the match itself, the obvious order of the day is to try and build up as big a 1st leg lead as possible ahead of our return match at Workington a week Saturday. I’m not one for setting targets, at the end of the day whether it is a one point or 31-point lead, we’ll take whatever hand we are dealt into the second leg.”