AFTER last weekend’s action, which saw the Somerset Rebels maintain their place at the top of the Premier League table and then progress through to the quarter-final of the KO Cup, the team now turn their attentions to the League Cup and their push for a place in the semi-finals of that particular competition with back-to-back matches against the Plymouth Devils.
Somerset’s group matches have been somewhat protracted due to Plymouth’s well-documented financial concerns at the start of the season, but Plymouth’s visit to the Oaktree Arena on Friday (May 20) and the return fixture in Devon the following night will determine whether it will be the Rebels or Rye House, who have completed their group matches, will be in the hat for the semi-final draw.
Rye House sit top of the group with 10 league points to their name, and a points’ difference of plus 14 race points, while Somerset have four league points from their two matches against the Hertfordshire side and a current points difference of plus six.
Whilst there are a number of permutations which would see Somerset top the group, in short, if they defeat Plymouth by 10 points or more on Friday night, then any victory the following night at the St Boniface Arena will be sufficient for the Rebels.
Plymouth will come to the Oaktree Arena without their number one Charlie Gjedde, who is deemed to be ‘with-holding his services’ after the Dane decided not to come back to the UK to ride for Plymouth after the future was secured, and Glasgow’s Ben Barker, an ex-Devil, will guest at number one in Gjedde’s place.
Somerset will be at full strength for Friday night, though they will be without Paul Starke and Zach Wajtknecht for the following night’s return fixture, with Starke required to ride for Leicester, his Elite League club, as Saturday's match is, in effect, a re-arranged fixture which give's Leicester preference on Starke’s services, while Wajtknecht has a prior overseas commitment which was arranged before to the new dates for the matches against Plymouth were agreed.
Team manager, Garry May said: “While there are a number of possible outcomes in the two matches against Plymouth by which we can top our group and progress through to the semi-finals, the way we are going to approach the matches is the same as we go into every match, with the intention to win them both and picking up the maximum league points.
“Of course, despite not being able to qualify themselves, Plymouth will be going all out to put a spanner in the works and stop us from topping the group.
“So it is all set up for an exciting, but hopefully not too nerve-racking, two nights of speedway, and hopefully the Somerset fans will turn out in their droves to not only get behind the boys in their quest for a place in the League Cup semi-finals, but to give the team the accolade they deserve for a superb win at Workington on Saturday night which took us through to the quarter-final stages of the KO Cup.”