Cases Somerset Rebels were unable to repeat the historic first Premier League win at Rye House Rockets of six weeks ago when the two sides did battle again at Hoddesdon on Saturday night (writes Dave Thompson).
The Rebels, who were without Sam Masters - on Speedway GP qualifying duty - and the injured Claus Vissing, were beaten 48-42.
The home side were also without their top man Charlie Gjedde, who was still on the injured list after trapping his foot under Freddie Lindgren’s engine in Monday’s Sky Sports meeting.
The Rockets tracked Ricky Wells in place of Gjedde, with the Rebels running with Josh Auty for Masters, and, as on Friday, rider replacement for Vissing.
Jason Doyle got the Rebels away to a great start in Heat 1, as he led up from the other three, but before the turn, Luke Bowen had shown in front, before Doyle came barrelling back around the wide line to take up the running on the back straight, with Alex Davies in third.
Davies held third until Ricky Wells came knocking at his door on the opening turns of the final lap, Davies fought of the attentions of Wells over the final lap to give the Rebels an early advantage.
That advantage was short lived however, as the Rockets hit back immediately with a maximum advantage in Heat 2. Despite movement at the start, primarily from Jason Garrity, the race was allowed to continue after the tapes rose, as Tom Perry led to the turn.
Jason Bunyan flew around the outside of Perry on the second turn to lead. However the Rebels appeared to be holding the minor places with ease, until Jason Garrity appeared on the scene, and carved his way to second place of the final turn of the opening lap, to leave the Perry and Kyle Newman in his wake. The Rockets pair easily held their advantage to the flag.
The Rockets moved another four points clear in Heat 3, when Josh Auty’s night got off to an awful start, as he moved before the start, and as he stopped the tapes rose, leaving him flat footed at the tapes.
If Auty’s start was bad, James Wright’s night got off to an even worse start, as he was forced wide on the opening turn.
Auty recovered his composure, and charged under Anders Mellgren on the first turn, but try as he might, he couldn’t get to Ritchie Hawkins who had shot clear from the start.
Wright had recovered enough to be close up to Mellgren at the fourth turn, but was hampered as Mellgren straightened up. Mellgren was soon back on it and charged after Auty, reeling him in by the back straight of lap three.
Auty fought off the first challenge, but on the final lap, Mellgren was through and into second to give the Rockets a second ‘full house’ on the trot, to give the home side a six-point lead.
Auty didn’t have time to dwell on that performance, reappearing in the very next heat as the rider replacement for Claus Vissing.
The race didn’t get very far at the first attempt, after Jordan Frampton took a huge dive at the tapes. The red lights were on in a flash, as the referee called them back immediately.
The restart saw a level break, and with four riders going for the same patch of shale, the inevitable happed, and both Rebels riders were on the floor. The third attempt to get underway saw another level break, but this time the rockets pairing of Frampton and Jason Bunyan just got a slight advantage, with Auty challenging on the outside.
In another very tight first bend Auty muscled his way through, taking up the running off the second bend.
The loser on this occasion was Kyle Newman who was shuffled to the back. Despite giving chase the rockets couldn’t haul in the flying Auty, and the order remained the same to the line.
Heat five saw the Rebels hit back, but at the first turn another Rockets maximum looked on the cards. Alex Davies led up, but Ander Mellgren and Ritchie Hawkins swept around the wide line.
Davies cut back up the inside and was joined by Jason Doyle, as the pair charged through the inside, and shot to the front on the back straight. With Doyle and Davies team riding the opening lap, the Rebels looked to have turned the tables on the Rockets, and looked to post a maximum of their own.
Anders Mellgren had other ideas, and was close up with nowhere to go, until the Rebels switched over positions as Doyle moved outside.
Davies lost a bit of ground, and Mellgren was through in a flash to grab second spot. That’s how it stayed to the line, and despite Davies chasing hard, he could never get back to a position to regain the place.
Doyle was quickly back on track as he took the replacement ride in Heat 6. Luke Bowen and Ricky Wells broke quickly to lead up, but Tom Perry was right on their tails, with Doyle missing the break.
Perry was all over Wells for the first three laps, as the pair battled it out at close quarters. He charged around the outside of Wells down the back straight of the final lap, and set off after Bowen at the front, coming with a big run off the final bend, and only just failed at the line.
Although Doyle was also close up, he couldn’t find a route to third as the Rockets wiped out the Rebels advantage from the previous heat.
Jason Garrity showed that Perry was not the only reserve in the match that could cut it with the big boys as he matched Josh Auty wheel to wheel for most of the race in Heat 7.
Jordan Frampton shot off the start to lead up from Auty, with Garrity getting the better of a slow starting James Wright. The Droylsden rider roared around the outside of the second turn, passing Auty and taking up second place behind Frampton.
Auty set about Garrity, hounding him for the next four laps, until he conjured up a great run off the final turn, to grab back second place right on the line, by the narrowest of margins.
Alex Davies and the Rebels have been having a torrid time in Heat 8 of late, but on Friday night Davies and Kyle Newman shared the points, but the opposition rider took the win, with Davies second. But he went one better here, taking the win, but again the points were shared.
Davies blasted of the start, with Newman by his side. The Rebels were on for a maximum advantage, and looking to reduce the deficit to just 4-points. That was until Luke Bowen came with a wet sail around the first bend and flew past Newman into the second turn.
Jason Bunyan was next, flashing by Newman on the back straight and demoting him to last place.
Davies had it all under control at the front, with Bowen and Bunyan trying to close, but to no avail. Bunyan did make a place, but it was at the expense of Bowen as they ran to the flag.
Davies was back to the start line in no time at all as he became the third replacement for Claus Vissing. Davies again led up from the tapes, and again his race partner was by his side.
As they approached the second turn, Anders Mellgren threw down his challenge on the wide outside, but Tom Perry, already out wide, held his line and the Swede ran out of room, and locked up, leaving Ritchie Hawkins to grab second spot from Perry.
Mellgren got things under control quickly and set about closing Perry down. He closed the gap by the second lap, and tried every line over the next couple of circuits in his attempts to grab second spot.
Perry battled away fending off Mellgren, until the Hagfors racer got a big run out of the opening turns of the final lap. Perry might have held him off, but for looking inside as Mellgren delivered his challenge on the outside, and grabbed third place in the process.
Perry had no time to brood over on his last race as he was out again in Heat 10, in a reserve switch for the out of sorts Kyle Newman.
Josh Auty was obviously eager to get matters underway, as he made a huge jump at the tapes, and was rightly called back straight away by Dale Entwistle. In the restart Auty made a great getaway, with Ricky Wells and Perry close up.
Wells outran Perry to the turn, and was close on Auty’s heels for the first lap. Luke Bowen got the run on Perry down the back straight, but could never open enough of a gap to feel comfortable.
Perry was back on his wheel at the end of the second lap, and looked to have made an opening for himself until he ran wide on the opening turn of the penultimate lap, and had to reel Bowen in all over again.
He came storming around the final lap, and was closing Bowen down fast, but the line came just in time for the Harlow born rider.
After three shared heats the Rebels finally got back to reducing their deficit in Heat 11, but not before Jordan Frampton had flown off the line to lead before the turn.
Whilst Frampton kept it tight, Jason Doyle came blowing around the wide line to grab the lead onto the back straight. Alex Davies was also well away, and in an easy third spot when he locked up on the third turn, allowing Jason Garrity by.
Davies had it all back in order quickly and set off after Garrity, running him down on the opening turn of the next lap, and taking the wide line to win back the place.
Garrity gave chase, but on the same turn next time round he came to grief, leaving the Rebels to take a 2-4 advantage, and put them 6-points down with four heats to go.
When the tapes rose on Heat 12, Josh Auty and Jason Bunyan broke together, and before they had gone a couple of yards they were literally locked together, and heading straight for the first bend fence.
Neither rider could get away from his machine before they piled into the fence at top speed. It was a horrific looking crash with both riders ending in a tangle of fence and machines.
Bunyan was first to rise after a few minutes, but it looked bad for Auty as he was attended by a large number of medical staff. He was down for some time, but eventually and happily rose to his feet, and walked back to the pits under his own steam, and was able to take his place in the re-run, although he looked a bit worse for wear.
In the restart Anders Mellgren led up, with Auty powering into second spot as he carved his way around Bunyan on the opening turn, and then around the fast starting Tom Perry on the last turn of the lap.
Bunyan closed on Perry but looked to be chasing a lost cause until Perry ran wide on the second turn of lap three, and losing his place.
Meanwhile Auty was on Mellgren, and they raced wheel-to-wheel, swapping places as they went. Mellgren was still in front when Auty conjured up a stirring run around final two turns of the race, coming with a wide run to snatch the win right on the line.
It was all change in Heat 13, with the Rockets replacing Ricky Wells with Jason Bunyan, and James Wright taking the Rebels replacement ride Jason Doyle flashed from the tapes to lead from the up.
Meanwhile James Wright missed the start completely, and never really got into the race except for a brief challenge to Bunyan on the third lap. At the front Doyle ran away with the win, comfortably holding off Jordan Frampton.
Tom Perry blazed off the tapes in Heat 14, and he might have had James Wright for company had Wright not caught a huge lift off the line. By the time he got his machine down, the field was gone and Wright added to his night of woe. Perry put his head down and wound it on, leaving Ritchie Hawkins and Jason Garrity toiling in his wake.
Hawkins did close late in the race, but Perry had it all under control, and never looked in danger as he took the win from the Rockets duo.
Despite winning the previous seven heats, with the exception of Heat 11, the Rebels could not provide any of the minor places, leaving them needing a shared heat or an advantage to take an away point.
The home side tracked Jordan Frampton and Anders Mellgren, whilst the Rebels went with Jason Doyle and Josh Auty.
The Rockets pair broke quickly and led to the turn. Jason Doyle was next away, and came storming into the opening turns, and guided past Mellgren around the outside and setting off after Frampton down the back straight.
In the meantime Auty was starting on a roll, and hauled in Mellgren over the next two laps.
He ran into the opening turn of lap three on the outside line, before executing a slick cut back to shoot beyond Mellgren on the inside of the back straight, and give the Rebels the shared heat they needed to take a point.
The Rebels had taken 10 heat wins to the Rockets' five, but could not fill enough minor places to take the win, despite battling hard all night.
The score sheet was topped with a superb 14-point haul by Jason Doyle, closely followed by Josh Auty’s 13+1.
Alex Davies returned a confidence boosting 9, including two heat wins, with the scoring completed by Tom Perry posting a great six-point tally from reserve.
Both James Wright and Kyle Newman will be looking to put their disappointing nights behind them when the Rebels take on the Rockets at the Oak Tree Arena on Friday evening.
Rye House Rockets = 48
1. Ricky Wells (Guest) - 0, 1, 2, JB = 3
2. Luke Bowen - 2, 3, 1*, 1* = 7+2
3. Anders Mellgren - 2*, 2, 1*, 2, 0 = 7+2
4. Ritchie Hawkins - 3, 0, 2, 2 = 7
5. Jordan Frampton - 1*, 3, 2, 2, 3 = 12+1
6. Jason Garrity - 2*, 1, F, 0, 1* = 4+2
7. Jason Bunyan - 3, 2, 2, 1*, 1* = 9+2
Somerset Rebels = 42
1. Jason Doyle - 3, 3, 0, 3, 3, 2 = 14
2. Alex Davies - 1, 1, 3, 3, 1 = 9
3. Josh Auty (Guest) - 1, 3, 2, 3, 3, 1* = 13+1
4. James Wright - 0, 0, 0, 0 = 0
5. R/R for Claus Vissing – R/R
6. Tom Perry - 1, 2, 0, 0, 0, 3 = 6
7. Kyle Newman - 0, 0, 0, = 0
8. Darryl Ritchings - DNR
Heat 01: Doyle, Bowen, Davies, Wells (2-4) (2-4) 56.80
Heat 02: Bunyan, Garrity, Perry, Newman (5-1) (7-5) 56.70
Heat 03: Hawkins, Mellgren, Auty, Wright (5-1) (12-6) 57.70
Heat 04: Auty, Bunyan, Frampton, Newman (3-3) (15-9) 57.50
Heat 05: Doyle, Mellgren, Davies, Hawkins (2-4) (17-13) 57.20
Heat 06: Bowen, Perry, Wells, Doyle (4-2) (21-15) 58.20
Heat 07: Frampton, Auty, Garrity, Wright (4-2) (25-17) 58.10
Heat 08: Davies, Bunyan, Bowen, Newman (3-3) (28-20) 57.50
Heat 09: Davies, Hawkins, Mellgren, Perry (3-3) (31-23) 58.20
Heat 10: Auty, Wells, Bowen, Perry (3-3) (34-26) 57.70
Heat 11: Doyle, Frampton, Davies, Garrity (fell) (2-4) (36-30) 57.60
Heat 12: Auty, Mellgren, Bunyan, Perry (3-3) (33-39) 58.00
Heat 13: Doyle. Frampton, Bunyan, Wright (3-3) (42-36) 57.80
Heat 14: Perry, Hawkins, Garrity, Wright (3-3) (45-39) 59.00
Heat 15: Frampton, Doyle, Auty, Mellgren (3-3) (48-42) 58.60