Anniversary Challenge
Somerset Rebels 34, Poole Pirates 56

POOLE Pirates proved to be party poopers as they invaded the Oaktree Arena and inflicted a 22-point defeat on the 'Cases' Somerset Rebels, who were celebrating 20 years of racing at the venue.

Limiting the hosts to just one race winner, Chris Harris in heat seven, the Pirates delivered a showing of pacey gating, and although on paper the result looks as though the Premiership side outclassed the Championship Rebels, Somerset were very much in close quarters in many of the heats.

With five of Poole's teams being ex-Rebels, they arguably had more experience of the Oaktree circuit than the seven Rebels on the night.

After going behind in the opening heat, the hosts were able to stem the tide for three heats.

Having done well in heat five to overcome first out of the traps Richie Worrall, Rebels' guest for the night Josh Bates had no answer to the powerful pass of Jack Holder that set Poole on their way.

By heat eight the visitors had established a 10-point lead and within a further three heats the Rebels were facing an 18-point deficit courtesy of back to back 5-1s for the Pirates.

The visitors followed that up with a brace of 4-2 advantages and although, through Josh Grajczonek, they also provided the winner of the final two heats, it was Rebel riders picking up the minor places.

Team boss Garry May said afterwards: "Some of our lads chose to try out a few things and that is fair enough to be honest, as this was an ideal opportunity to test set-ups and things.

"We've also got to remember that Poole are a strong, solid outfit.

"They have been deliberately built that way by Matt [Ford] and he has got a good side there, of that there can be no doubt.

"But we gave them a run for their money tonight I felt.

"We weren't as quick as them from the gates and we couldn't finish through with some of the moves that we made, but I don't think we were as bad as the result might sound."

Somerset (34): N.Covatti 7+1 (2,0,2,2,1'), R.Schlein 7 (0,2,1,2,2), A.Rowe 6 (2,2,2,0), J.Bates 6+2 (1',2,1',2), C.Harris 4+1 (1',3,0,0), H.Atkins 3+2 (1',0,1,1'), T.Kurtz 1 (1,0,0,0)
Poole (56): J.Grajczonek 12+2 (3,1',2',3,3), J.Holder 11+1 (2',3,3,3), B.Kurtz 10 (3,3,3,1), R.Worrall 9+1 (3,1,3,2',0), N.Klindt 8 (X,2,3,3), P.Starke 5 (3,0,1,0,1), J.Jenkins 1 (FD,0,1,0),


THE Rebels' hopes of reaching the final stages of the SGB Championship Shield were delivered a blow when Eastbourne won at Birmingham in the final fixture of the Southern Group.

The Eagles' 53-37 triumph gave them four points, so they finish top of the group with 10 points.

Somerset have nine and now have to wait to see if they can edge through as the best second-placed team across the three groups.