SGB Premiership
Somerset Rebels 46 (3), Leicester Lions 32 (0)
Meeting abandoned after heat 13 - result stands

SOMERSET Rebels beat basement club Leicester Lions last Wednesday night with comparative ease for a second home win this week to maintain their place at the top of the Premiership table, writes Ian Belcher.

However, the meeting was overshadowed by an horrific looking crash in heat 14, which brought proceedings to a premature end.

After the hosts' Jason Doyle was surprisingly headed home by Leicester’s Ricky Wells in the opening race, a 5-1 maximum in heat 2, courtesy of reserve pairing Jake Allen and Bradley Wilson-Dean, put the Rebels into an early lead, one that they were never to relinquish.

A further maximum race win in heat 7, the providers on this occasion being Jack Holder and Allen, saw Somerset stretch their lead out to 10 points.

Despite their arrears, Leicester eschewed the chance to deploy their tactical substitute option to try and get themselves back into the match, the Rebels making the Lions pay for the missed opportunity by further extending out their lead to 14 points with successive 4-2 race wins in heats 10 and 11.

Doyle’s victory in heat 13, his third race win of the night, was enough to put the Rebels into an unassailable position with two heats still remaining.

The penultimate heat got no further than the first bend, where a coming together between Leicester’s Stuart Robson and Somerset’s Allen resulted in the latter careering across the track and into Leicester reserve Josh Auty, with the pair of them then being thrown into the path of Richard Lawson, who was left with nowhere to go other than into the two stricken riders and their machines.

The impact of the incident saw no fewer than four of the Oaktree Arena safety fence air-bags virtually explode, but they more than did their job, as – after lengthy on-track attention from paramedics – all three riders emerged from the carnage relatively unscathed.

Auty appeared to be the worst affected with a badly swollen ankle, while Allen suffered a sore elbow, and Lawson was able to walk away from the incident with little or no damage to himself – a minor miracle in itself.

The decision was made to abandon the meeting and the result stood, providing the Rebels with the three points they needed to hang on to top place in the SGB Premiership table.

Somerset team manager Garry May said: “Of course, I am delighted that we won the match and took all three league points to keep us at the top of the table.

"But that is all overshadowed by the horrific crash in heat 14, and we are just thankful that all three riders involved seem to have emerged from it relatively unscathed.”

“This was a potentially tricky match for us, as although Leicester might be propping up the league table, they had riders in their line-up who were more than capable of making life difficult for us.

"But my boys did a thoroughly professional job tonight and never gave Leicester even a sniff of causing us an upset.”

“As I say, our main thoughts are with the three riders involved in that heat 14 incident, and hopefully, the early indications that none of them have suffered any major injury proves to be correct.”

Somerset (46): Jason Doyle 11, Bradley Wilson-Dean 10+1, Jake Allen 6+1, Richard Lawson 6, Jack Holder 6, Nico Covatti 4+1, Aaron Summers 3+2.
Leicester (32): Scott Nicholls 8+1, Charles Wright 7, Josh Auty 6, Hans Andersen 5+1, Ricky Wells 3, Connor Mountain 2+2, Stuart Robson 1+1.

The Rebels’ next action will be an early afternoon start on Bank Holiday Monday, when they visit Poole for the third confrontation between the two sides this month.

The meeting starts at 12.30pm and will again be ‘first versus second’, as the Pirates also won on Wednesday and remain a point behind the Rebels, as do King’s Lynn, who gained two comfortable home wins against Wolverhampton.