ROCKETS’ CUP SETBACK
Saturday April 08, 2017
AFTER last week’s euphoric opening win over defending champions Wolverhampton, the BMR Rockets were brought back down to earth by Swindon in the Knock-Out Cup, the Robins’ 49-41 victory in Hoddesdon leaving them an uphill climb to make further progress in the competition.

While Scott Nicholls continued from where he left off against the Wolves with another 12 points here, it proved more of a mixed night for fellow heat leaders Edward Kennett (8) and Chris Harris (7+1). The trio provided five of the Rockets’ six race wins, with Ben Morley – ultimately appearing as a guest after all following a BSPA management committee’s ruling on Rob Branford’s team prioritisation – taking the other in Heat 2 but failing to add to that three points tally.

On the plus side, there were more encouraging signs from Ellis Perks, who soldiered to another 5 points.

While Kennett and Morley propelled Rye to a positive start by winning the first two races – the captain over World No.5 Jason Doyle and the Southender by less than half a bike length over Emil Grondal in a thrilling encounter – the warning signs were on the wall as early as Heat 3 when the fast-emerging Bradley Wilson-Dean and David Bellego outpaced Harris and Davey Watt for the 5-1 that put the Robins in front, at 10-8.

Nicholls and Perks quickly levelled the score by finishing either side of Nick Morris, but after the sides had exchanged further 4-2s, Grondal’s victory over Nicholls in Heat 7 helped nudge Swindon back in front - 22-20 - and the Robins never looked back.

Doyle’s stunning surge past Nicholls to win Heat 11 brought another 4-2 to push Swindon to 35-31, and even through the Brit gained revenge in a return encounter with Doyle in Heat 13, a 5-1 from Grondal and David Bellego in the penultimate race ensured the Wiltshiremen would take a first leg lead back to Blunsdon this coming Thursday.

A further 4-2 from Morris and Doyle over Nicholls and Harris in the finale made a difficult second leg task for Rye that much trickier, and emphasised Swindon’s all-round fire-power on the night, with every Robin bar Zach Wajtknecht bagging at least two paid race wins.

As Rye House captain Edward Kennett admitted afterwards, “We lost tonight out of the gate and in the first bend. You’ve got to be so sharp and on the ball, and we just weren’t.

“It’s frustrating; very frustrating. A couple of riders had an off-night, and we’ve just got to look to next week. We’ve got a busy week ahead – we’re riding three days in a row (at Swindon and King’s Lynn, and then at home to Lynn on Easter Saturday – which is good because riders like Robbo (Stuart Robson) and myself only ride in one league. We’ll just see how we get on.

“This tie is not over yet. Yes, it’s going to be tough to pull back the eight points but we’ve got to head to Blunsdon with an open mind. Anything can happen, and we’ve got riders in the team – myself included – who enjoy going to Swindon. So you never know – as the saying goes, it’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

BMR Rockets:
Scott Nicholls 12 (5 rides), Edward Kennett 8 (4), Chris Harris 7+1 (5), Ellis Perks 5 (5), Stuart Robson 3+2 (4), Davey Watt 3 (4), Ben Morley (guest) 3 (3).

Swindon:

Nick Morris 14+1 (6 rides), Jason Doyle 11 (5), Bradley Wilson-Dean 9+1 (5), Emil Grondal 8 (6), David Bellego 7+2 (5), Zach Wajtknecht 0 (3), Adam Ellis R/R.