SGB Championship

Somerset Rebels 49, Sheffield Tigers 41

SHEFFIELD may well be the city of steel but it was Somerset that had nerves made of it as for the second successive home meeting they claimed a heat 15 maximum 5-1, a result that goes a long way to securing the Rebels place in the play-offs, writes Stephen Allen.

The meeting had a sprinkling of controversy. The Sheffield riders' eagerness in trying to make quick starts resulted in a handicap start for Danny King in heat one, warnings for Zaine Kennedy and Todd Kurtz in their respective first outings and then a moment of much debate in heat nine when referee Chris Gay disqualified Kyle Howarth for touching the tapes as both he and Nico Covatti moved too early.

Gay even inspected video footage to ratify his decision before moving on to the re-run which effectively produced the turning point for the Rebels as they went ahead for the first time, courtesy of a resulting 5-1 from Schlein and Covatti, achieved through a splendid dual move by the pair of them on Drew Kemp who was first away.

The Rebels protected that four-point advantage with a string of five shared heats, Somerset producing four of the five winners in that sequence.

Significantly, though, in the one heat they had to give second best to a Tiger (King in heat 13), the determination of Morris and skipper Chris Harris to peg back Howarth was immense.

Covatti's heat 14 victory made him the fifth Rebel to win a heat and just as Anders Rowe's heat eight win was impressive, Covatti's was vital as it kept the Tigers at arms-length and ensured at least a point for the Rebels.

But the pre-match instructions from team boss Garry May were to send the Tigers packing with nothing to show for their trip and, with Schlein unbeaten from his programmed rides, the only decision the Rebels manager had to make was who to partner him.

Morris was the chosen one and it was the perfect choice as both he and Schlein battled intensely to overcome Howarth and put the biggest margin of the whole meeting between the two sides.

The roar that greeted the duo as they crossed the line summing up succinctly what it meant to the Rebels faithful.

Next up for Somerset is this Saturday's trip to league leaders Leicester, who claimed a massive 55-35 away win at Birmingham on Wednesday to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

The Rebels make the trip without skipper Chris Harris who will be competing in the FIM SGP Challenge in Gorican, Croatia, looking to try and secure a place in the 2020 Grand Prix series.

Scores: Somerset 49 - N.Morris 11+1 A.Rowe 4+1 R.Schlein 15 N.Covatti 8+2 C.Harris 9+1 L.Harris 1 N.Stoneman 1

Sheffield - 41 D.King 6 J.Macdonald 6+1 T.Kurtz 6 J.Sedgmen 3+1 K.Howarth 7 Z.Kennedy 6+2 D.Kemp 7+2