SGB Knockout Cup quarter-final, first leg
Somerset Rebels 52, Poole Pirates 38

SOMERSET Rebels have given themselves a good chance of advancing to the semi-final stage of the Knockout Cup after a 52-38 quarter-final first leg triumph over rivals Poole Pirates, writes Stephen Allen.

The all-firing home side put themselves in the driving seat from the very outset with two excellent 5-1 advantages, but track conditions were not conducive to good, safe speedway.

Following a brief track grade after heat three, the riders called for some early remedial work to be done immediately after heat five.

Once racing resumed, with a 17-13 scoreline, the Rebels gradually began to restore their advantage and by the halfway mark led 28-20, a lead that would have been greater had visiting Kacper Woryna not stolen second place from Bradley Wilson-Dean in a photo finish.

The Rebels extended the margin to 12 points when Charles Wright followed home Jack Holder for a 5-1, a remarkable result given that Wright had found himself nestled into the air-barrier in the first staging of heat nine, having experienced a 'coming together' with Peter Kildemand.

The task was far from done for the home side, though, as Josh Grajczonek and Linus Sundstrom hit back with maximum points at the expense of Jason Doyle and Jake Allen.

Jonas Jeppesen, who had notched up his first Rebels race victory earlier, was embroiled in a titanic battle with both Brady Kurtz and Kacper Woryna, eventually managing to keep the latter out while Richard Lawson had ridden off into the sunset.

Wilson-Dean joined Wright for yet another Rebels 5-1 in heat 12, before Kurtz out-manoeuvred Doyle in heat 13 and Kildemand just managed to deny Lawson a point as Poole tried to keep the deficit respectable.

But two superb rides from Holder and, especially, Jeppesen in heat 14 saw the Rebels move into a 16-point lead.

Anticipation at the gate by Doyle in heat 15 ruled him out of the final action, Wilson-Dean deputising.

Kurtz led home Holder, with Grajczonek third, as the visitors pulled back two points, giving the Rebels a 14-point cushion for the second leg in Dorset on June 27.

Team manager Garry May said: "We fought hard tonight, we knew we needed to build a decent lead and while the tie still has a long way to go a double-figure lead is a nice one to have.

"We had a few issues with the track early on but the staff listened to what the riders were saying, addressed the matter as best they could and we had a good meeting to enjoy.

"It was pleasing to see Jonas pick up his first win and you can see he is figuring out the track more and more and its benefitting him."

Somerset (52): J. Holder 12, B. Wilson-Dean 9+1, J. Doyle 8+1, J. Allen 7, J. Jeppesen 6+1, R. Lawson 6, C. Wright 4+2.
Poole (38): B. Kurtz 10, J. Grajczonek 9, P. Kildemand 5, L. Sundstrom 5+2, K. Woryna 5, J. Shanes 3, M. Szczepaniak 1+1.