On paper the Somerset 'Sharp' Rebels final match in the group stages of the Premier Trophy looked as though it could be a tight affair.

Coming on the back of a poor away performance and subsequent defeat to the Newport Wasps, which effectively ended the Rebels participation in the Trophy, it was a time to restore some pride and confidence in the team. Recent changes in the averages had seen both teams make positional alterations to their squads. The Rebels changes saw Jordan Frampton move into the main body of the team, with Tomas Suchanek moving the other way to take up a reserve berth. For this match though, Suchanek's place was taken by a guest, Isle of Wight rider Andrew Bargh, whilst Suchanek was away on European Championship duty.

The Fen Tigers captain Jason King moved up into the main body of their team, with Mario Jirout moving to Number 5, and Tom P Madsen to Number 1. The Tigers also tracked a guest at reserve in former Rebel Ben Barker, in place of the injured Jamie Smith.

The early stages of the match did prove to be a close run thing, with neither side able to assert any real dominance. The rebels opening up with a slight advantage after the expected initial heat win by skipper Magnus Zetterstrom. The race took two attempts to start, as the Fen Tiger's Shaun Tacey made a hash of the first running by breaking the tapes, and took the 15 metres handicap as a consequence. In the re-run Zorro and Tom P Madsen raced side by side until Zorro took up the running on the third turn to win easily. In the mean time Simon Walker held off the fast finishing Tacey, by cleverly taking a tight line and clamping him to the kerb as he tried to run up inside.

Two shared heats followed with wins for Ben Barker in the reserves race, and Emil Kramer in Heat 3. Barker did not make the Best of starts, but was soon in front of Andrew Bargh, and then on Lap 2 he made a great outside pass on Danny Warwick to lead. Bargh was now having his own battle swapping places with Mark Thompson, before eventually grabbing third spot. In Heat Emil Kramer also did it the hard way, after being led by both Fen Tigers riders. He first roared passed Kyle Legault on the back straight, and then swept by Jason King off Bend 4. Jordan Frampton gave a good account of himself in his first race in the main body, keeping both Fen Tigers honest until he retired with a puncture on the final turn of the race.

The Fen tigers levelled the score in Heat 4, with a victory from another Rebels 'old boy' Mario Jirout. Ritchie Hawkins made a good start alongside Jirout, but the Czech muscled him out of it with a robust bit of riding around the opening turn. Meanwhile Ben Barker accounted for Andrew Bargh to give the away side a 2-4 advantage.

The Rebels regained their slender lead in the next heat with a 4-2 of their own, and a second victory for Emil Kramer. This was another race that had to be re-started with referee Ronnie Allen being unhappy about Jordan Frampton's efforts to gain a quick getaway, issuing a public warning to the young Rebel in the process. This time Kramer made a slick start to lead early from the other participants who were all in a close bunch. It was Tacey who emerged from the opening turns in second spot followed by Frampton. That was how it stayed, with a sorry looking Tom P Madsen at the rear.

Heat 6 saw the Rebels triple their lead to 6-points with a terrific 5-1 from Zorro and Simon Walker. Zorro charged from the gate, and Simon Walker swept around Mario Jirout on the opening turn. They then put on a display of great team riding, with Zorro looking for his young partner the whole way, to snuff out any Fen Tigers challenge. The lead increased to 8-points in Heat 7 with another good display of team riding that just failed to take the full compliment of points. Danny Warwick bolted out of the gate, followed by Ritchie Hawkins. The pair occupied the whole width of the track to fend off the strong challenge of Kyle Legault. With the race seemingly safe Hawkins pulled out a slight lead, and Warwick just moved off the outside line around the final two turns of the race. It was just the opening the young Canadian was waiting for, and he swept around the hapless Warwick to steal second spot.

Simon Walker took the win in Heat 8, but not before he had dealt with the fast starting Shaun Tacey. Tacey had flown from the gate to lead. Si-co came charging down the back straight to ride a fantastic third bend, sweeping passed Tacey on the wide outside. Ben Barker got the better of Danny Warwick to share the points. Emil Kramer took his third straight win in the next heat, blasting passed the quick starting Jirout on the outside of the second turn. Jirout looked to be in a safe second spot until his machine appeared to falter running down the back straight for the final time. It was just enough for Jordan Frampton to take advantage of, and he stole second spot on the final bend. For Jirout it was the end of his participation in the match, as his engine had let go, and without a spare bike he was out of the meeting.

Whenever Zorro is on a sustained run of wins around the Highbridge circuit, it always seems that Heat 10 is his nemesis, and so it proved again. After 21 unbeaten outings here, he was beaten by Kyle Legault. Legault blasted from the start to lead, only for Zorro to grab the lead momentarily off the second bend. With Legault back in front, Zorro stalked him the whole way, probing inside and out for an opening. With one lap left Zorro put in a huge blast around the opening turns of the final lap. The run should, and would have carried him passed the young Canadian, to a well deserved win, but Legault was having none of it, and unceremoniously slammed the door shut in Zorro's face running wide off the bend, and right out to the fence, with Zorro on his outside. At best it was an extremely hard and aggressive manoeuvre, at worst it could have caused an accident, something which Zorro appeared to point out on the warm down lap. the resulting 2-4 brought the Rebels lead back to 10-points, but with 18-point margin for the bonus point still not out of reach.

Laurence Rogers is an astute Team Manager, who can be relied upon to pull the irons out of the fire when required, as he proved many times in his reign as the Rebels supremo back in the early days. In Heat 11 he sent out the currently winless Shaun Tacey in the 'Black and White' helmet to recoup some points in attempt to retain the bonus point. It worked better than he could have hoped for as his riders took a 1-8 advantage. Tacey fired from the gates in front of the Rebels pairing of Hawkins and Warwick. With Madsen a close up last a terrific battle ensued with all four riders bunched tight together for the whole race. Hawkins was all over the back of Tacey, and Warwick was having his own private battle with Madsen, just behind the leading pair. Madsen got the better of Warwick and then set about Hawkins. Ritchie Hawkins held him off superbly, denying him a run up the quick inside line. As they entered the last lap, Hawkins just strayed off the kerb, and Madsen was through like a shot with a superb move on the inside, to garb maximum points for the Fen Tigers.

With the lead back down to 3-points it was an almost impossible task for the Rebels to pull back the bonus point, requiring 5-1's in all the remaining heats. Despite dominating the closing heats, a 4-2 in Heat 12 ended any hope of that. Emil Kramer completed 4 straight wins in Heat 12, and looked on for a 5-1 early as Andrew Bargh trapped out alongside him. Kyle Legault stole passed the young New Zealander on the back straight to grab second, and stop the maximum advantage.

The final three heats saw the Rebels take two more 5-1's, firstly in Heat 13, where Zorro, and Ritchie Hawkins completed untroubled after a flying start by both. Tom P Madsen took third from Mark Thompson, who replaced the mechanically unsound Jirout. the Fen Tigers struck back in the next heat, with a 2-4 from Jason King and Ben Barker. King got the better of Jordan Frampton from the start, with Barker taking Warwick on the outside of the final bend on Lap 1.

The nominated heat was all Rebels as Zorro, and the unbeaten Emil Kramer blasted the Fen Tigers pair out of sight from the start. The fans had been treated to a very entertaining match, with some fantastic racing, and one in which both teams had played their part, but in the end it was the Somerset' Sharp' Rebels who ran out fairly comfortable winners of this 'Whitepack Network Services sponsored match by a 9-point margin, 52 -41. To mark his elevation to the main body of the team, a battling performance saw Jordan Frampton win the 'Rider of the Night' award from the same sponsors. For the Rebels it was a good all round performance, with Emil Kramer helping himself to a paid home maximum for the second week on the trot. For the Fen Tigers the star of the show was Kyle Legault, with a battling 9+1 tally. On Sunday the two teams do it all over again, but this time League points will be at stake, and West Row will be the venue.

 

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