SGB Premiership
Somerset Rebels 47, Leicester Lions 43

THE ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels opened their 2018 home campaign with a hard-fought win against Leicester on Wednesday night, but only after overcoming the shock of being eight points down after just three heats, writes Stephen Allen.

The sharp-trapping Lions rapidly built up that advantage after sharing the opener against world champion Jason Doyle and then firing in successive 5-1 maximum heat wins.

To their credit, however, the Somerset camp quickly regrouped and as the match entered its second half, the Rebels had converted the deficit into a two-point lead.

Heat 10 was to see that lead doubled to four points, but persistent Leicester immediately hit back to level things up at 33-33 with just four heats remaining.

The Rebels were not to be denied, though, and successive 5-1 race wins in heats 12 and 13 put them in an almost unassailable eight-point lead with just the final two heats to be run, their victory being sealed in the penultimate heat with Bradley Wilson-Dean taking the race win.

There was, however, a final twist to come in this enthralling match as Leicester left the Oaktree Arena with a match point to show for their efforts, courtesy of a last heat 5-1.

Despite this, Somerset team manager Garry May was pleased with his team’s performance on the night, saying: “After going those eight points down early doors, things could have got really difficult for us.

“The boys dug deep to not only claw their way back into the match, but to also go on and take victory on the night with a heat to spare.”

“There were many positives to take from tonight’s match as well as some things we need to build and improve upon, not least of which is our gating.

“There is plenty more to come from the boys over the coming weeks.”

Somerset (47): Jason Doyle 9+1, Richard Lawson 9+1, Charles Wright 9+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 8+1, Jake Allen 7+1, Jack Holder 4, Jonas Jeppesen 1.
Leicester (43): Krystian Pieszczek 12+2, Kyle Newman 11+1, Hans Andersen 7+1, Chris Harris 6+2, Danny King 5+1, James Sarjeant 2+1, Michael Palm Toft r/r.