Cases Somerset Rebels completed their regular Premier League season with a convincing 59-31 victory over Workington Comets at the Oaktree Arena on Friday night.
Like the Rebels, Workington will be in the six-team play-off that get under way later this month to determine the 2012 Premier League champions (writes Ian Belcher).
The match started with Somerset fans fearing the worst when skipper Jason Doyle took a hefty looking tumble in the first turn of the opening heat, but all breathed a sigh of relief when Doyle eventually not only got to his feet, but when on to follow team-mate Alex Davies across the finishing line in the re-run for a Rebels 5-1 heat win.
Workington fought back with a heat advantage in the reserves race, this coming after Somerset’s Kyle Newman was excluded from the original staging of the heat for causing Comets' Ashley Morris to fall as the pair tussled for the lead.
But that was as good as it was going to get for the visitors, with Lady Luck showing, on this night at least, that she was not going to be sitting in the Workington side of the pits.
Already using rider replacement for the injured Kenny Ingalls and having to bring in two guest riders for the also injured duo of Adam Roynon and Kyle Howarth, Workington suffered further injury woes when Tero Aarnio came off by far the worst when all four riders tangled going into the opening turn of heat five.
The Finn received lengthy on-track treatment before he was able to get to his feet, but with him suffering concussion and a possible collarbone injury, it came as no surprise when it was announced that he was to play no further part in the meeting.
A second successive maximum heat win for the Doyle/Davies combination in heat six saw the Comets reach for the ‘black and white’ double-point option, with René Bach being handed the responsibility.
For the best part of three laps it looked all over if he had achieved the target of six points for the race win, but once again luck deserted the Comets as the Dane’s bike shed a chain when in a clear lead to gift the Rebels their third maximum race win of the night.
To his credit Bach pushed his stricken bike the 300 metres to complete the final lap in order to pick up a consolation point for the visitors, his efforts earning him rapturous applause from the crowd for his efforts.
The Rebels continued to pile on the misery as heat win followed heat win, Davies winning heat eight with consummate ease while behind him team-mate Tom Perry and Workington’s Ashley Morris had a ding-dong of a battle for second place, Morris just hold Perry off as the pair flashed across the finishing line.
Jesper Monberg opened his ‘win’ account for the Rebels in heat nine and yet another maximum heat win for the unstoppable Jason Doyle/Alex Davies gave the home side a virtually unassailable 22-point lead, a final throw of the die from the Workington team management coming in heat 11 with Richard Lawson taking the Comets second attempt of the tactical ride.
Once again things started out well for the Comets as Lawson hit the front, but was quickly relegated to third as both Newman and Vissing swept past the Workington number one, only for Lawson to coast to a halt just metres later as his bike picked up a puncture.
With the match and any hopes of salvaging at least a point from the meeting now beyond them, Workington had nothing but pride to ride for, but there was still no let up from the Rebels, a fifth maximum race win in heat 13 confirming Jason Doyle’s second successive paid maximum score, this to follow on from his ‘full house’ against Sheffield the previous week.
And while Workington did gain the scant consolation of a maximum race win of their own in heat 15, it served only to deny Vissing and Davies their own meeting maximums and to stop the Rebels from rattling up a 60-point score for the second week in a row.
In truth, Workington were never in the match as Somerset had them on the back foot right from the off, the home side providing no less than 12 of the 15 race winners.
Jason Doyle, Alex Davies and Claus Vissing were all in supreme form, while reserve Kyle Newman recovered from his first ride exclusion to be unbeaten by an opposition rider in his remaining three rides.
With league matters now complete, the Rebels will have to sit back and see how other matches unfold over the coming week before their final league position is confirmed, though all that will count for nothing as they head into the Championship deciding play-offs.
Prior to that, however, Somerset have the matter of their League Cup semi-final to occupy their thoughts.
The first leg, against Newcastle Diamonds, will be staged at the Oaktree Arena on Wednesday, September 19 (7.30pm).
Somerset: 1) Jason Doyle [c] 10+2 (4 rides), 2) Alex Davies 12+1 (5r), 3) Jesper B Monberg 8+1 (4r), 4) James Wright 7 (4r), 5) Claus Vissing 10+2 (5r), 6) Kyle Newman 8+1 (4r), 7) Tom Perry 4 (4r); team managers – Steve Bishop & Garry May
Workington: 1) Richard Lawson [c] 7+1 (5r), 2) Tero Aarnio 0 (1r), 3) René Bach 9 (5r), 4) Rider replacement – Kenny Ingalls, 5) Rohan Tungate [g] 5 (4r), 6) Ashley Morris 9+1 (7r), 7) Brendan Johnson 1 (7r); team manger – Tony Jackson