SGB Championship
Somerset Rebels 49, Newcastle Diamonds 41

THERE aren't too many occasions when a rider scores 15 out of 18 and is overshadowed by the performances of two 'lesser lights', writes Stephen Allen.

But Rory Schlein's unbeaten five-ride sequence, after a first-heat retirement, undoubtedly gives way to the centre-stage billing of Anders Rowe and Nathan Stoneman, after the Rebels managed to pull back an early deficit to secure three more league points on Wednesday night.

Rowe, a scholar of Schlein's in the No Limits rider development scheme, delivered a solid nine-point haul that included a blistering victory in heat 10 to give the Rebels some leverage entering the final third of the meeting.

He battled hard to pass Matthew Wethers and Lasse Bjerre, but made it look easier than his partner Nick Morris was able to do, although by the chequered flag both Rebels had seen off the opposition and scored the side's second maximum heat advantage of the evening.

Prior to that win Rowe had already ridden above expectation with three solid second places, and he said: "Things have gone better for me tonight than they did on Sunday and I am more than a little happy about that.

"The track hasn't been too bad in fairness, I think I have been able to use it to my advantage if I'm honest but I am just glad to have picked up the points.

"I was determined to prove to myself and others that I can score points when in the main body of the team.

"It was my goal at the start of the season to try and build an average that would have taken me out of reserve, as I never wanted to be the sort of rider who is just happy to stay at reserve all season.

"I want to keep bettering myself. I know it is going to be tough but I am up to that challenge."

Stoneman covered himself in glory too, scoring in each of his four outings, including two impressive defeats of Sunday's hero at Brough Park, Diamonds' reserve Max Clegg, and the Welshman's paid seven well exceeded the expectations of most.

It was a particularly satisfying performance by Stoneman considering that he was the innocent victim of a spectacular heat four crash that caused a second lengthy delay to proceedings, the first coming after the start area team wrestled to improve the rising of the tapes which had a tendency to lift on the inside significantly quicker than on the outside.

The heat four incident saw Diamonds reserve Danny Phillips lose control leaving the first turn, heading directly for the fence right in the path of Stoneman, with Phillips hitting the top of the air fence.

Fortunately all riders returned safely to the pits while referee Seth Perkin insisted on some extra track grading to try and iron out a few first turn ruts.

It was work well done as the meeting progressed to deliver some great speedway, although it took the Rebels a long time to get in control of the meeting.

In fact they could only truly claim a comfortable cushion as late as heat 14, after Nico Covatti and Stoneman picked up a 4-2 to give Somerset a 44-40 advantage.

Steve Worrall and Thomas Jorgensen were the riders asked to try and eke out a draw for the Diamonds, but Schlein had the track well sussed out by this stage and went on to secure his fifth victory of the night, largely unaware that his partner for the heat, Nick Morris, was forcing his way by the visitors to make it a 3-0 distribution of league points.

Somerset (49) - N.Morris 6+2, A.Rowe 9, R.Schlein 15, N.Covatti 7, C.Harris 7+2, L.Harris 0, N.Stoneman 5+2
Newcastle (41) - S.Worrall 10, U.Ostergaard 8+1, L. Bjerre 5, M.Wethers 4+1, T.Jorgensen 8, M.Clegg 4, D.Phillips 2+1

Next up for the 'Cases' Rebels is a second consecutive home meeting, against Edinburgh next Wednesday (August 14).