SGB Championship Knockout Cup
First round, second leg
Somerset Rebels 46, Redcar Bears 44 (aggregate: 82-97)

SOMERSET Rebels exited the Knockout Cup at the first hurdle on Wednesday night, as a narrow victory over Redcar Bears was nowhere near enough to overturn a first-leg deficit.

Faced with the prospect of pulling back 17 points from the first leg, the last thing the Rebels needed were heat losses, but they conceded two within the first three heats at the Oaktree Arena.

It took Somerset six heats before they could celebrate a heat gain of their own through Rory Schlein and Todd Kurtz, the pair having previously been beaten by the sizzling Tom Bacon in the opener.

Their 5-1 levelled up the meeting and two heats later the Rebels inched into a lead for the first time on the night, through a 4-2 from Kurtz and Anders Rowe, although the stubborn Bears refused to allow Somerset to make any further progress.

There was a chance in heat 10 when Kurtz gated strongly but was relegated to last place down the back straight as Ben Barker and Jordan Stewart applied the pressure.

Coming to the Rebels' rescue was Schlein, who battled furiously to assume the lead.

By now, though, time was rapidly slipping away from the Rebels and when Barker and Nathan Greaves combined for a 5-1 in heat 12, it not only wiped out Somerset's advantage on the night it also put the tie beyond the Rebels' reach, assuring Redcar of a spot in the quarter-finals.

The Rebels did manage to secure a win on the night, with Chris Harris defying a vintage Charles Wright ride, the ex-Rebel seeking his favoured outside line to overcome Schlein in heat 13 to keep the scores level, but a brilliant ride by Nico Covatti to win heat 14 inched Somerset ahead, before Wright avenged for his earlier defeat by Harris to deny the Rebels skipper a personal maximum in a shared final heat.

Rebels assistant team manager Steve Bishop said: "It's been a very disappointing and frustrating night.

"We have been beaten out the starts mainly, although Bomber [Chris Harris] has been absolutely superb and whatever he has done to get out the gate, may he continue to keep doing that.

"But the rest of the lads have found it tough.

"They have all been sharing with each other what they have been trying, but in too many areas it hasn't been working.

"Once the tie began to slip away from us we knew we needed to keep battling away just to make sure that we could pick up the win.

"That was needed for the confidence factor alone."

Somerset are back in action tomorrow (Friday) night at Scunthorpe, to open their SGB Championship league programme, before hosting Eastbourne on Wednesday, May 22.

Somerset (46): C.Harris 14 (3,3,3,3,2), R.Schlein 10+1 (2,3,3,1,1'), N.Covatti 9 (2,2,2,3), T.Kurtz 5+1 (0,2',3,0), A.Rowe 3 (2,0,1,0), V.Grobauer 3+2 (0,1',1',1), H.Atkins 2+1 (1',0,0,1)
Redcar (44): C.Wright 11 (2,1,3,2,3), B.Barker 9+1 (3,2,2,2',0), N.Greaves 6 (3,FD,0,3), T.Bacon 6+1 (3,0,2,1'), M.Palm-Toft 6 (1,3,2,0), J.Stewart 5+2 (1,1',1',2), J.Smith 1+1 (0,1',0,0)