SGB Championship

Somerset Rebels 42, Leicester Lions 48

TABLE-TOPPING Leicester Lions maintained their excellent form as they got their claws into the 'Cases' Rebels from the very outset of this Championship league fixture and while it would be unfair to say they ravaged the Rebels, the hungry Lions just simply refused to allow the home side to recover from that early onslaught, writes Stephen Allen.

Sharper-gating, particularly in the early heats, proved to be a large difference between the two sides and not once did the visitors allow Somerset to hold the advantage on the night.

Somerset team manager Garry May had to resort to putting in an early tactical substitution with skipper Chris Harris replacing Valentin Grobauer in heat five and the skippers' win, bolstered by a third place from Nico Covatti, at least provided the Rebels with their first heat advantage.

Sadly, it was only to be the first of four on the night as Leicester justified their position at the top of the table.

Rory Schlein and Todd Kurtz were able to enjoy one of those heat gains in heat six, making up in some way for the heat one 5-1 reversal inflicted by Ellis Perks and Scott Nicholls.

Their 4-2 over ex-Rebel Richie Worrall and the fallen Jack Thomas suggested maybe that the Somerset could work their way back into the meeting, but the nearest the Rebels could get to Leicester's score was when they narrowed the deficit to just two points by the close of heat nine, birthday boy Nico Covatti having something extra to celebrate with a win that brought the scores to 26-28.

Then came the visitors’ sucker punch, however, as Ryan Douglas and Josh Bates inflicted another 5-1 on the Schlein and Kurtz partnership.

That heat 10 result re-established the Lions' six-point advantage.

An intense battle between past British Champions unfolded in heat 11, Rebels skipper Chris Harris prevailing over Lions captain Scott Nicholls, but again the heat was shared and time was running out for a full Rebels recovery.

A point for Connor Mountain from heat 12 left Somerset needing to climb one as Bates had scored the win over Atkins and Leicester had taken the score to 32-40.

Nicholls' win in heat 13 followed by a gallant Douglas victory in heat 14 underlined the Lions' strength but at least Harris and Schlein sent the home fans on their way with a 4-2 heat advantage to remember from heat 15.

Todd Kurtz said: "The track caught us out a bit in the first heat as there was plenty of loose dirt on the top and if you didn't get clean away it was a case of being filled in.

"We were out-gated and on the back foot from the outset."

Garry May said: "We always knew this was going to be a tough meeting but we kind of made things a little bit easier for them by not being sharp enough out of the gates.

"They (Leicester) did a great job in taking the meeting to us and then defending their advantage and we will just have to take this one on the chin and look to return to winning ways as quickly as possible."

The next opportunity the Rebels will have is on Friday when they make the long trip to Glasgow (7.30pm)


Somerset - 42: C.Harris 16 (2,3,3,3,2,3), R.Schlein 6+1 (0,3,1,1',1), A.Rowe 5 (3,0,0,2), N.Covatti 5+1 (0,1,3,1'), T.Kurtz 5 (1,1,3,0), V.Grobauer 3 (2,1,0), H.Atkins 2 (0,0,0,2)

Leicester - 48: R.Douglas 11 (1,2,3,3,2), J.Bates 9+2 (3,1',2',3,0), E.Perks 8+1 (3,2,2,1'), S.Nicholls 7+1 (2',0,2,3), C.Mountain 6+2 (1',3,1',1,0), R.Worrall 5 (1,2,2,0), J.Thomas 2 (2,FD,0)