SGB Championship

Somerset Rebels 55, Edinburgh Monarchs 35

SOMERSET Rebels signed off their regular home league campaign with a resounding 20-point victory over Edinburgh as they eventually defied the rain that has so far this season prevented these two sides from going head-to-head, writes Stephen Allen.

The British weather did its best to try and give some further concern, with a heavy shower within the hour up to start time, but the meeting did go ahead on time and it was the Rebels who adapted to the heavy track conditions the smartest.

Teenager Anders Rowe stormed to a personal best time around the Oak Tree Arena, completing the four laps in an exceptionally quick 56.85 seconds, with the current track record (55.12 secs) holder Rory Schlein in close quarters for an opening 5-1.

The ideal start for Somerset was maintained as Nathan Stoneman delivered his first ever race win for the Westcountry club, sharing heat two, and then further problems presented themselves to the visitors as they registered just one finisher per race in four of the following five heats.

The Rebels built up a 27-9 lead in that time, with Edinburgh providing their first race winner in seven heats when Ricky Wells stormed from the tapes and gave Chris Harris little opportunity to launch an attack.

Wells' victory was of great relief to the visitors as they had just conceded back-to-back maximum heat scores courtesy of Nick Morris and Nico Covatti in heat five and Schlein and Rowe in six.

Rowe's unbeaten night was maintained in heat eight as he battled by William Lawson as Somerset banked a 4-2 to take the score to 34-14, but two heats later Rowe's dream of going through the card were shattered - nevertheless, his work had been done.

Edinburgh had not been well served by ex-Rebel Masters but he turned things around to chalk up a straight hat-trick of race wins between heats 11 and 13, the first two resulting in in the visitors' only two heat advantages of the night as they staged a fightback.

A storming ride from Schlein backed up by Chris Harris, however, prevented the Monarchs from making it three from three.

Ricky Wells and Nico Covatti tussled intensely in heat 14 with Wells coming out on top but Stoneman's sixth point of the night ensured the heat was shared.

Schlein flew from the tapes in heat 15 and a pass by Harris on Wells ensured Somerset "rounded up" their victory to a 20-point margin as they moved back into third in the table, relatively safe in the knowledge that the sides who still have a mathematical chance of catching them now (Sheffield, Berwick and Edinburgh) would all need to be unbeaten across their remaining matches to do so, a position that has pleased team boss Garry May.

May said: "The pressure is now firmly on the chasing clubs after we did the job we went out to do.

"Our rides adapted quickest to the heavier conditions early on and that enabled us to put the pressure on Edinburgh who knew that they needed a result from this meeting.

"It was encouraging to see Nathan scoring decent points tonight.

"He has invested a lot of money lately on machinery and has been working really hard without getting the rewards he deserved, so to see him pick up his first win for the club was extremely pleasing.

"Once again Anders was also showing us just how much he has improved this season, he quite simply hasn't been fazed by slotting in at number two.

"I know he would have loved that maximum but it wasn't to be but his contribution to the team tonight was immense.

"We now have to go to Edinburgh on Friday in the return and they will have Cameron Heeps back.

"That will be a different matter from tonight for sure but it doesn't stop us wanting to go and make it a double this week!."

Scores: Somerset 55 - Rory Schlein 13+1 Anders Rowe 8+1 Nick Morris 10+1 Nico Covatti 8+1 Chris Harris 9+1 Nathan Stoneman 6+1 Luke Harris 1+1

Edinburgh - 35 Sam Masters 12 James Sarjeant 1 Josh Pickering 2+1 Ricky Wells 8 Ellis Perks (Guest) 2 Connor Coles 1+1 William Lawson 9