Somerset Rebels win League Cup encounter with Rye House
PUBLISHED: 14:32 26 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:32 26 March 2016
Bright sunshine and a cracked blue sky greeted the early arrivals at the Oaktree Arena on Friday, as the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels defeated Rye House Rockets 49-40 in a League Cup encounter, writes Dave Thompson.
The sun shone, not only on the fans, but also on one man in particular, Jake Allen, who turned last weeks near disaster into a personal triumph. Allen’s truncated start to his Rebels career, which saw him taking the short ambulance ride to Weston-super-Mare hospital, with a suspected back injury, following a horrible looking fall, was contrasted by his performance here.
Before his accident Allen had made a promising start, which he not only confirmed against the Rockets, but in fact exceeded expectations by not only taking his first win in Rebels colours, and scoring a superb 8, paid 10 points from the difficult No 2 position, but also carried off the Somerset ‘Rider of the Night’ award, to cap a fantastic evening for a man who under different circumstances could have still been side-lined for some time.
With the Rockets at full strength, the Rebels came into this encounter without Paul Starke, whose services had been claimed by his Elite League club, the Leicester Lions, under the rule regarding re-arranged fixtures for Double Up riders. However the Rebels had gained the services of a former Rebel, and a man who definitely knows his way around the Highbridge circuit, Scunthorpe’s Alex Davies.
The Rebels got off to a great start, which saw them completely boss the match to the two thirds mark of the meeting, before the Rockets struck back, when a series of unfortunate events curtailed the homes sides scoring. Heat 1 saw Josh Grajczonek fly from the outside gate, coming around Edward Kennett in the process. At the same time Jake Allen cruised up the inside of the Rockets top man, to relegate him to third. With Grajczonek quickly disappearing at the front, Kennett got the better of Allen down the back straight, to give chase to the Rebels skipper, but it was in vain, as there was no catching the flying Josh G. Kasper Lykke never got in the hunt, and retired on the final turn of the race, to give the home side a 4-2 opening win.
Heat 2 saw the scores levelled, but it could have been so much better. Zach Wajtknecht bolted from the tapes to lead up and Bradley Wilson-Dean was slowly away in third place. Wajtknecht was soon challenged by Ben Morley, who took up the running late in the opening lap, as Wilson-Dean came through from third to challenge. He chased down Morley, catching him with a couple of laps to go. The pair battled it out, with Wilson-Dean pressing hard, and getting alongside on two or three occasions, but Morley just saw it out to the flag. Wajtknecht had third tied up until he was forced to retire with mechanical problems, whilst holding an easy third place on the final turn of the race.
The Rebels rammed home their first ‘Full House’ of the season, as Charles Wright and Alex Davies wrapped up Heat 3 with lightning starts. Once they hit the front before the turn, it was game over, and the further they went the more secure the win. As they rode into the distance, they left Cameron Heeps and 2015 Rebel Leigh Lanham toiling in their wake.
The Rebels then reeled off five unanswered heat advantages to build a 16-point lead before the Rockets briefly stemmed the flow of points. It started with a 4-2 win in Heat 4, when Rohan Tungate roared away from the line to lead all the way. Zach Wajtknecht also made a great start, only to get caught between the Rockets pair in the turn, and was squeezed to the back of the field. To his credit he never gave up the chase, and claimed back a place as he put an outstanding move on Ben Morley, cutting back off the fourth turn of Lap 3, to shoot up his inside, and relegate him to fourth.
The same scored followed in Heat 5, which saw Charles Wright make another uncharacteristic rapid exit from the tapes to lead up to the turn, with Edward Kennett and Alex Davies close up. Wright quickly moved to his favoured outside line, stopping Kennett’s sweeping run in the process. Despite some hard chasing, from the Rockets leader, Wright comfortably held the lead to the flag, with Davies taking an easy third place.
The Rebels followed up with another ‘Full House’ in the next. Once again Josh Grajczonek made a jet propelled start to the heat, and led every inch of the way. Stuart Robson gave chase, until Jake Allen made a sweet pass inside the vastly experienced Sunderland born man as they entered the third turn of the opening lap. Whilst making a guest appearance for the Rebels, Robson once said that it was much easier to race for the Somerset side, rather than against them, and Jake Allen certainly rammed that point home, as he comfortably held the battling Robson to shut out the Rockets man.
Heat 7 went the way of Heat 4, with Rohan Tungate bolting off the tapes to not only lead all the way, but to do it with some style, as no one got anywhere near him. With Leigh Lanham giving chase, it was left to Bradley Wilson-Dean to account for Cameron Heeps, which he did with aplomb as they ran into the opening turn. Once secure in third, Wilson-Dean was never troubled by the Western Australian.
Heat 8 was as far as Jake Allen made it in last week’s challenge, but he got over that hurdle with a win, although the race had to be restarted after he clashed with Ben Morley in the opening turn, with Morley hitting the deck on this occasion. Zach Wajtknecht had lead up in the original running, and once again made a superb start to put the Rebels on a maximum advantage as they hit the turn in the re-run. Kasper Lykke had other ideas, and swept past Wajtknecht on the outside of the final two turns of the opening lap.
By this time Allen was heading for his maiden victory in a Rebels race jacket, something which he completed after a terrific battle with Lykke, which saw the pair swap places, with some stunning passing on numerous occasions, before the final lap. As Allen led into the final turns of the race, Lykke was not done, and came with huge run around the outside, only to get it all wrong in the final bend, where he did well to retain his seat, and not find himself eating dirt.
Heat 9 was also subject to a re-run, after Alex Davies had made a fantastic start to lead up, only for the visiting pair to clash in the opener, with Peter Karger coming of worse, falling, and not regaining his feet before the field headed back in his direction. He was excluded from the re-run for his troubles. In the restart, Davies led up again, only for Stuart Robson to cruise by down the back straight. Despite chasing hard, Davies was unable to make up the ground as Robson ran out for a comfortable win, with Charles Wright taking third to share the points.
The match was about to change, but not before the home side had banged in another maximum advantage to put them 20-points to the good. It was that man Jake Allen who made things happen, as he shot into the lead from the tapes. In the second turn he cleverly moved Leigh Lanham wide, to give his race partner, Josh Grajczonek, a clear run through to the front. Once the pair had the lead wrapped up it was plain sailing from there. Lanham just held third place at the flag, although Cameron Heeps was announced as third, but the official result reflected the true situation.
Over the closing five heats the Rockets clawed back 11-points, taking this section of the match by 20-points to 9, after a series of unfortunate events saw the Rebels drop points. The first of these saw Bradley Wilson-Dean left stranded at the first turn, as his machine gave up the ghost just after leaving the line. Meanwhile Edward Kennett blasted from the tapes to lead all the way, leaving Rohan Tungate reeling in his wake, as the visitors posted only their third heat winner in eleven races.
Heat 12 was shared when Charles Wright cruised around the outside of early leader Cameron Heeps, as they headed back into the straight at the end of the opening lap. Once at the front it was easy going for the Stalybridge based rider. Zach Wajtknecht made a slow start, and could not get back in contention, as the visitors packed the places to split the points.
The home side gifted the Rockets five unanswered points in Heat 13, as Josh Grajczonek was caught out when he picked some unexpected grip whilst contesting the lead through the final turn of Lap 1. He couldn’t recover as his bike lifted, and he took a sharp fall close to the fence, and was excluded. He was soon on his feet, and walked back to the pits under his own steam. As the tapes rose for the restart, Rohan Tungate’s machine died as he dropped the clutch, leaving him becalmed at the line, with the Rockets duo of Kennett and Robson racing away to post a 0-5 advantage, cutting their deficit to 13-points.
Heat 14 saw the points shared, as the Rockets posted another heat winner. Leigh Lanham made a quick start, with Alex Davies pressing to the turn. As the two former Rebels battled it out, it was Lanham who just got the upper hand as they exited the second bend, before opening a gap he wasn’t to lose. Meanwhile Bradley Wilson-Dean accounted for Ben Morley to grab third, as the race settled into stalemate to the flag.
The nominated heat saw Rohan Tungate and Charles Wright come to the tapes for the Rebels, whilst the Rockets posted Edward Kennett and Stuart Robson. As they came to the tapes, no one, referee & start marshal included, appeared to notice that the visitors took the wrong gates, as Kennett wearing the White helmet, lined up in gate three, with Robson (Yellow & Black) off the inside gate.
When the tapes rose, it was Rohan Tungate and Stuart Robson who got the hole shots, with Tungate hitting the front down the back straight. As they entered the final turn of the lap, Tungate, now on the wide line lifted, and only just got the bike under control, but the damage was done. Robson hit the front, and a hard charging Charles Wright, who looked to be heading for the lead, was hampered and had to drop back.
Tungate recovered, and he and Wright set about Robson at the front. The trio treated the crowed to an exciting display of close quarter racing as they appeared to swap places at will. Late in the race, a mistake from Wright allowed Kennett to get back in the race, he then closed down Tungate. Running into the final two turns Kennett slipped through the inside, as Tungate left the gate open, and gate he really should have shut. Despite trying to get back on terms, Tungate had to make do with third place, as the resulting 1-5 saw the Rockets pull the difference back to 9-points.
Despite the trial and tribulations of the closing heats, it had had been a great performance for the Rebels, with all four of the ‘new boy’s’ showing that they could well be a force to be reckoned with, especially around the Oaktree Arena circuit. Whilst others may have scored more points, the performance of the night has to have been that of Jake Allen, especially after the events of last week. His thoroughly well deserved ‘Rider of the Night’ award was presented, on behalf of the Meeting Sponsors M.J. Sealy Ltd, by 7 year-old Cory, who was enjoying his birthday party at the arena.
Top score went to the ever popular and exciting Charles Wright, with 10+1, whilst Josh Grajczonek and Rohan Tungate posted 9-points apiece. Everyone in the team did their jobs, including welcomed guest rider, Alex Davies (7+1), with both reserves providing points, despite some mechanical difficulties for both. It’s a big step up from the National League and difficult to make your mark in the Premier League, as many before them have proved, but on this showing both should be proud of their performance.
For the visitors, who appeared to be flattered by the final score line, Stuart Robson hit top score with 12-points, whilst Edward Kennet posted 11+2, other than that they were disappointing, with only Leigh Lanham coming out with any credit, talking a heat win and posting 6-points.
With the recent demise of the Plymouth Devils from League racing, next week’s fixture will see a Plymouth Devils Select take to the track again, as they visit the Oaktree Arena, to take on a Somerset Rebels Select in a challenge match.
Before that the ‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels travel to the Hoddesdon, home of the Rye House Rockets, for the next leg of this League Cup group.
Somerset Rebels - 49
1. Josh Grajczonek 3, 3, 3, Flx = 9
2. Jake Allen 1, 2*, 3, 2* = 8+2
3. Charles Wright 3, 3, 1*, 3, 0 = 10+1
4. Alex Davies (G) 2*, 1, 2, 2 = 7+1
5. Rohan Tungate 3, 3, 2, R, 1 = 9
6. Bradley Wilson-Dean 2, 1, R, 1* = 4+1
7. Zach Wajtknecht R, 1, 1, 0 = 2
Rye House Rockets - 40
1. Ed Kennett 2, 2, 3, 2*, 2* = 11+2
2. Kasper Lykke R, 0, 2, 1 = 3
3. Cameron Heeps 1, 0, 0, 2 = 3
4. Leigh Lanham 0, 2, 1, 3 = 6
5. Stuart Robson 2, 1, 3, 3, 3 = 12
6. Peter Karger 1, 0, Flx, 1* = 2+1
7. Ben Morley 3, 0, 0, 0 = 3
SCB Referee: Ronnie Allen
Heat 01: Grajczonek, Kennett, Allen. Lykke (ret). (4-2) (4-2), 57.44
Heat 02: Morley, Wilson-Dean, Karger. Wajtknecht (Ret). (2-4), (6-6), 59.97
Heat 03: Wright, Davies, Heeps, Lanham. (5-1), (11-7), 58.47
Heat 04: Tungate, Robson, Wajtknecht, Morley. (4-2), (15-9), 58.38
Heat 05: Wright, Kennett, Davies, Lykke. (4-2), (19-11), 58.72
Heat 06: Grajczonek, Allen, Robson, Karger. (5-1), (24-12), 58.10
Heat 07: Tungate, Lanham, Wilson-Dean, Heeps. (4-2), (28-14), 58.44
Heat 08: Allen, Lykke, Wajtknecht, Morley. (4-2), (32-16), 59.63
Heat 09: Robson, Davies, Wright. Karger (Flx). (3-3), (35-19), 58.25
Heat 10: Grajczonek, Allen, Heeps, Lanham. (5-1), (40-20), 58.78
Heat 11: Kennett, Tungate, Lykke. Wilson-Dean (Ret). (2-4), (42-24), 58.53
Heat 12: Wright, Heeps, Karger, Wajtknecht. (3-3), (45-27), 59.69
Heat 13: Robson, Kennett. Tungate (Ret), Grajczonek (Flx). (0-5), (45-32), 60.82
Heat 14: Lanham, Davies, Wilson-Dean, Morley. (3-3), (48-35), 59.99
Heat 15: Robson, Kennett, Tungate, Wright. (1-5), (49-40), 59.78