Friday May 01, 2020
Since the birth of Somerset Speedway the club has witnessed sixty three victories (home and away in meetings featuring just two teams), nail-bitten their way through five draws and lost fifty three times, just nine of those at the Oaktree, during the month of MAY alone.

Many will no doubt recollect that the club's very first official fixture, ridden in May at Buxton, was in the Conference League Knockout Cup and that was one of the five draws, whilst the last time they actually rode a May fixture they claimed their biggest ever victory over an Eastbourne side to-date.

In fairness, that last fact may not be as astounding as it sounds, for Somerset sides have only ridden FOUR times against the Sussex club to present times. After being trounced in the maiden match at Arlington on April 13th last year in the Championship Shield, the Rebels first victory over the Eagles came in the return fixture in that competition (52-38) just eleven days later.
But four weeks down the line, the two sides met again in league battle at the Oaktree and the Rebels ran out 54-36 to make it an all-time best, to-date, of an 18 point winning margin, which makes the Eagles one of a number of sides that the Rebels have a best result against so far.

For the record

54 Mildenhall
52 Rye House
46 Stoke
45 Isle of Wight; Sheffield
44 Redcar
40 Ipswich; Newcastle
38 Boston; Scunthorpe
36 Buxton; Workington
35 Bristol
34 Glasgow; Newport; Peterborough
32 King's Lynn
31 Ashfield; Leicester; Reading
30 Plymouth
28 Berwick; Edinburgh; Wolverhampton
26 Birmingham
20 Belle Vue; Cradley; St.Austell
18 Eastbourne; Exeter; Hull; Swindon
14 Poole
9 Southampton
8 Arena Essex
2 Trelawny
-4 Hackney

But let's focus in a bit more detail on that last May fixture, especially as there won't be another May meeting until 2021 due to the ongoing suspension of speedway due to the lockdown and social distancing restrictions - although young Henry Atkins may not be quite so keen to do so.
He had played his part in heat two, backing up Anders Rowe for a shared heat which Georgie Wood to keep the meeting all square but Henry's night was soon to come to an abrupt halt just two heats later, by which time the Rebels had inched ahead through a Nico Covatti-led 4-2 with Valentin Grobauer in support. Henry clipped the rear end of Wood's machine and was forced into a high-sided undesired dismount that left him nursing a shoulder injury and out of the remainder of the meeting.

A man down, the Rebels rallied and produced a first class performance to spurred on perhaps by Chris Harris' ride in the re-start of heat four blasting by former Rebel Richard Lawson. Harris may well have been quick in that one, but Grobauer was even quicker in heat five, by one-tenth of a second in fact and with Covatti this time playing the single pointer Somerset doubled that narrow two point lead to a margin of four.
Rory Schlein had no desire to be outdone in the pace stakes and he went faster than the German in the sixth with a tapes to flag win that was converted to another 4-2 when Todd Kurtz found a way by Wood, moving the scores onto 21-15.

Lewis Kerr and Ben Morley were able to stem the tide, albeit by not conceding the seventh but it was the manner that Harris moved by Kerr that left Rebels' fans in awe. Anders Rowe as at the back in that heat but was out on track again in heat eight and made a superb move to get into second place, behind his team-mate Kurtz as Somerset banked their first 5-1 of the night and into a double figure lead.

Over the course of the next three scintillating heats that advantage grew to eighteen as Kurtz and Schlein's heat 10 5-1 was the filling between 4-2 gains from Covatti and Grobauer (heat 9) and Harris and Rowe (11). Grobauer kept the Rebels bouyant as he inflicted an excellent defeat on tactical substitute Lawson, but the ex-Rebel was able to play a part in the visitors first heat gain one race later when he and Kennett finished either side of Harris; Schlein's efforts to get in the points thwarted when his bike lost power.

Somerset restored the eighteen point advantage when Covatti and Rowe reversed that heat 13 score in the penultimate race before Harris, with three previous wins to his name, returned to winning ways, leading home Lawson and Kennett, but again his partner, this time Covatti, failed to complete the distance.

For partisan supporters this result might only have been more satisfying had Harris managed a maximum and Atkins able to play a greater role in it.

SOMERSET 54 - Rory Schlein 6+2 (1',3,2',R); Todd Kurtz 9 (2,1,3,3); Valentin Grobauer 8 (1,3,1,3); Nico Covatti 10 (3,1,3,3,R); Chris Harris 14 (3,3,3,2,3); Anders Rowe 6+1 (2,0,2',1,0,1); Henry Atkins 1+1 (1',FD).
EASTBOURNE 36 - Edward Kennett 11+1 (3,2,2,3,1'); Alfie Bowtell 0 (0,0,0,0); Lewis Kerr 5+1 (2,2,R,1'); Ben Morley 4+1 (0,1',1,2); Richard Lawson 11 (2,2,2,2,1,2); Georgie Wood 3 (3,F,R); Connor Coles (G) 2+1 (0,1',1,0)

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