SGB Championship Shield (Southern Group)

Somerset Rebels 52 (3), Eastbourne Eagles 38 (0)

THE 'Cases' Somerset Rebels signed off their Southern Group programme of the SGB Championship with a powerful hat-trick of 5-1 maximum heat advantages to consign the resilient Eastbourne Eagles to a 52-38 defeat, writes Stephen Allen.

Rebels' number one Rory Schlein was in scintillating form to record the first home maximum since Jason Doyle's unbeaten four ride sequence against King's Lynn last September.

Schlein's maiden full house for the Rebels proved vital for the hosts, who found themselves nursing a slender two-point advantage with three heats remaining on a track that responded well despite the heavy rainfall earlier in the day.

In two of those three heats, former Rebel Richard Lawson was odds on to appear twice, significant for he too was unbeaten on the night at that stage, and was heading into heat 13 straight off a maximum score for the Eagles when used as a tactical substitute alongside Lewis Kerr in the 12th.

But Harris and Schlein proved sublime in heat 13 to steady the Rebels fan's nerves restoring a six point advantage.

Team manager Garry May astutely called on Henry Atkins to take a reserve ride in the penultimate heat, a move that reaped full reward as the 18-year-old made it off the line and had Nico Covatti backing up to register the Rebels fourth maximum heat advantage on the night.

The Rebels heat 13 combination struck again in the final heat to send the Eagles packing by the identical score that the Rebels had seen off the third group member, Birmingham a fortnight ago.

The victory leaves Somerset heading the group with a final total of nine points with Eastbourne visiting Birmingham on May 1 needing a win to overtake at the top.

Team manager Garry May said: "The lads knew what I was looking for tonight and that was a win by eight points or more and, while Eastbourne made it hard for us, I had a feeling that we could do something in the big heats and the lads didn't let me down.

"The track was good considering the way the weather had been during the day and I am happy with the way the boys went out there and put on a great display.

"Everyone showed plenty of effort. It was hard to pull Anders out of his final ride because he had been trying desperately hard and wasn't by any means off the pace, I just thought Henry was going the better of the reserves and had more of a chance of giving us some breathing space with the right result in heat 14, and boy did he deliver."

Scores: Somerset 52 - R.Schlein 13+2, C.Harris 13+1, V.Grobauer 8 , H.Atkins 7 , T.Kurtz 5+2, N.Covatti 4+3, A.Rowe 2

Eastbourne 38 - R.Lawson 12+1, L.Kerr 8 , E.Kennett 6 , B.Morley 4+1, T.Brennan 3 , G.Wood 3 , A.Bowtell 2+2