SGB Championship Shield (Southern Group)
Birmingham Brummies 44, Somerset Rebels 46

NICO Covatti recorded his third UK maximum and his first ever in Somerset colours, as he helped Somerset Rebels to what could prove a valuable Championship Shield win away to Birmingham on Wednesday night.

Back at his former track, Covatti – who missed the weekend's drubbing at Eastbourne – called on all his Perry Barr knowledge to go unbeaten, and with Rory Schlein by his side in the last heat of the night registered a 5-1 to give Somerset a 46-44 win.

Schlein, who had only dropped one point in three outings, played a key role in the Rebels' success as, besides featuring in that heat 15 maximum, had two heats earlier shaped up with guest Aaron Summers (replacing skipper Chris Harris) for a 5-1 that had trimmed the home side's six-point advantage down to just two.

Team manager Garry May was immensely proud of his side as they stuck to their guns after slipping behind at the heat six stage.

May said: "I told them to put the Eastbourne result behind them and go out and do the business, and that is precisely what they did.

"Nico was awesome and I had the belief that he and Rory could do it in that last heat.

"But let's not forget the efforts of Henry Atkins, who did really well tonight, and also Valentin (Grobauer), who would have had a paid six score had he not suffered that engine failure in heat seven."

May's acknowledgement of Atkins' performance was fully justified, as he worked tirelessly for his paid three return, doing well to hold out Tobias Thomsen in heat eight for a vital 4-2 to the Rebels, and it was a case of experience coming to the fore in heat 14 when Ashley Morris eventually found a way by him.

Likewise, Grobauer was better value than his score suggested as he settled down after a nervous 'first time out' at Perry Barr to find some good attacking racing lines.

He was set for a comfortable heat seven maximum with Covatti until his bike packed up on the third lap, but despite that misfortune the Rebels didn't allow things to trouble them and proved to be good value for their victory.

Somerset's Oaktree Arena home stages the second British Under-21 semi-final tomorrow (Friday) night, with Atkins looking to try and seal a top three finish to join fellow Rebel Anders Rowe in the final at Berwick on April 27.

Atkins faces opposition from Charlie Brooks, Sheldon Davies, Kean Dicken, Jason Edwards, Jamie Halder, Luke Harris, Eliott Kelly, Macauley Leek, Harry McGuirk, William O'Keefe and Lewis Whitmore.

Birmingham (44): M.Castagna 10+1 (3,1',3,2,1), K.Newman 8+1 (3,2,2',1,0), U.Ostergaard 7 (2,3,2,0), A.Morris 6+2 (1',2,2,1'), Z.Wajtknecht 6+1 (2,0,1',3), J.Shanes 5+1 (2',0,2,1), T.Thomsen 2+1 (0,2',0,0)
Somerset (46): N.Covatti 14+1 (3,3,3,3,2'), R.Schlein 13 (3,3,1,3,3), A.Summers 8+1 (2,1,3,2'), T.Kurtz 5 (1,1,3,0), V.Grobauer 3 (0,R,1,2), H.Atkins 2+1 (0,1',1,0,0), A.Rowe 1 (1,0,0)