SGB Championship

Sheffield Tigers 52, Somerset Rebels 38

THE 'Cases' Rebels' last action of June will not be remembered too fondly, as their contest against second placed Sheffield was very much a one-sided affair with track conditions giving the Rebels cause for concern to such an extent that team manager Garry May was nearly obliged to withdraw his side from the meeting.

An excess of fresh material had been laid on the circuit which made the track barely ridable let alone raceable with May explaining "That track was terrible.

"There was far too much dirt on it and you could hardly turn.

"We had to get them to do something about it.

"When you've got riders as experienced as Rory [Schlein] and Bomber complaining then you know it has to be bad.

"The last four or five heats were raceable. The excess dirt had been sorted by then. That's how the track needed to be all way through.

"We asked the referee to take a look at things and I can understand that he wanted to push on with the meeting.

"There was a crowd there wanting to see some racing but you couldn't race on it the way it was.

"It's all very well Simon Stead saying 'get on with it' but he doesn’t ride a bike any more. I don't ride any more. But if my riders say they don't want to ride then I'm with them and I'll pull them out if I have to. "

The Rebels found themselves trailing by ten points (17-7) after four very strung out heats when they called for the referee to inspect the track.

After some remedial work the racing resumed but Rory Schlein got no further than the tapes as he touched them and earned a disqualification. But conditions actually had improved somewhat as Todd Kurtz showed by blasting round in 50.38 seconds to win heat five although again there was little to excite the true racing enthusiast. Chris Harris couldn't get anywhere close to Danny King in heat six, although Anders Rowe did try and put pressure on Drew Kemp in a forlorn bid to try and prevent another Sheffield heat advantage.

Misery for Valentin Grobauer followed in heat seven as he shed a chain but former Sheffield rider Kurtz showed his liking for the place as he picked up another victory in heat 8 , the Rebels eking out a fortuitous heat advantage when Josh MacDonald fell on the final turn allowing Henry Atkins in for his first points of the evening.

Chris Harris picked up a win in heat nine and 10, with Danny King out front, looked set to be shared until Drew Kemp efforts were rewarded with a pass on guest Stefan Nielsen to extend the Tigers lead to 38-22.

Schlein saw second place taken from him by Tigers' guest Jake Allen the Rebels number one then pulling up, but the action began to hot up as Kurtz launched a last bend assault that so very nearly took him to the front.

Instead he had to settle for second place, relegating Allen as Simon Lambert's first meeting in Sheffield colours continued to go well.

A mistake by Josh MacDonald brought Grobauer crashing down at the start of heat 12 and in the re-run Harris had to react quickly to avoid hitting the tapes.

In doing so he gave an advantage of half a yard to Ty Proctor who successfully defended the heat as the sole Sheffield representative.

Rory Schlein made no mistakes in heat 13 admitting afterwards: "Give me a track to race on and I can show you what I can do."

With Harris in third place, a second heat gain went Somerset's way.

Stefan Nielsen rode a good heat 14 with Atkins somehow managing to rob Lambert of a point before Chris Harris banked the final race of the evening although Todd Kurtz had to end an otherwise promising night with a zero, admitting afterwards: "I had a different motor in tonight, thanks to a mate and it made all the difference.

"Obviously, we would have liked to have run them a bit closer tonight, we came here looking for a possible win, but the track was tough early doors. It's all done and dusted now and we've got to move forward."

The onward move will be on Wednesday night when the Rebels entertain Scunthorpe in the quest for SGB Championship league points (7.30pm).

Sheffield boss Simon Stead said: “At the end of the day, a home track gets prepared to suit the home riders and to give the home side their home track advantage,” Stead said.

“In years gone by, Sheffield has notoriously been a big, fast, grippy racetrack and that’s all it was today.

“It suited our boys, it didn’t suit theirs. Our boys enjoyed it, their boys didn’t. Our boys knuckled down and got on with it, their boys didn’t.

“I can only apologise to the supporters for having to hang around when they should’ve been watching racing and we thank them for their patience - but it was nothing to do with us.

“I’m proud of the way our boys didn’t let it get to them though and it was a great performance from them all.

“We have to thank Simon and Jake for stepping in and doing such a great job and full credit to the regular Sheffield boys as well because they stepped up and covered for Broc well which I was really pleased with.

"All in all it’s a great result against a strong Somerset team who I’d expect a lot more from.”

Sheffield - 52: D.King 13 (3,3,3,2,2), S.Lambert 12+2 (3,2',1',3,3,0), T.Proctor 10 (3,2,2,3), J.Allen 7+2 (3,2',1,0,1'), J.MacDonald 5+1 (1,2',F,FD,2), D.Kemp 5+1 (R,1,2,1',1),

Somerset - 38: C.Harris 12 (1,2,3,2,1,3), T.Kurtz 10 (2,3,3,2,0), S.Nielsen 4 (R,1,0,3), V.Grobauer 4+1 (1,R,2,1'), R.Schlein 4+1 (1',R,3), H.Atkins 2 (0,0,1,0,1), A.Rowe 2 (2,0,0)