THE BIG PREVIEW: SWINDON VS ROCKETS
Sunday May 20, 2018
The “BP Mitchell” Rockets are set to finally get it on with the Swindon Robins when the two sides meet in their long-awaited Knock-Out Cup Quarter-Final tie this week.

The tie was originally scheduled to be staged both home and away on Easter Monday, but the weather totally put paid to that. Instead, the Robins are now set to host the first leg in Wiltshire on Monday, with the Rockets staging the second – and deciding – leg in Hoddesdon two nights later (Wednesday, May 23rd at 7.30pm).

The Robins have begun the defence of their league title brightly, with away victories at Poole and Leicester sitting alongside an impeccable home record. They have also lifted their first piece of silverware of 2018 in defeating Cup winners Belle Vue on aggregate in the Charity Shield.

Rider-wise, Championship Individual winner Nick Morris is now installed at No.1, followed in by 2014 ELRC winner – and recent Premiership Individual runner-up - Troy Batchelor (who has returned to the Abbey Stadium after a two year absence) and exciting Polish star Tobiasz Musielak.

Newly qualified GP Challenge Finalist David Bellego and 2016 World U-21 Finalist Adam Ellis fill the middle order, while World U-21 competitor Zach Wajtknecht features as one half of the Robins’ reserve pairing. Swindon have recently been forced into a change in the other half, with teenager Jack Smith signing on following Mitchell Davey’s unfortunate injuries.

The Rockets, meanwhile, come into the tie fresh from collecting their first away match point of the new term at Poole on Wednesday. They have enjoyed a fair amount of success on an individual front in the last week too. Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls have both made it through to the British Final, where they will join the already qualified Edward Kennett, while Krzysztof Kasprzak stands just five rides away from reclaiming his place in the Grand Prix series after winning his qualifying round in Denmark. Harris was desperately unlucky not to join him, after placing fourth in his own round in Denmark after a run-off – only the top three qualified automatically – but will be hoping he will still be called up to the Grand Prix Challenge on July 28th as a Wildcard nomination.

Lower down the riding order, 2017 Robin Emil Grondal will provide guest cover at Blunsdon for concussion victim Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, with a deputy for the return leg in Hertfordshire yet to be announced.

Rye House Team Manager Peter Schroeck is looking forward to locking horns with the Robins as the Rockets aim for revenge against the side that eliminated them from the competition at the same stage a year ago. “We haven’t forgotten Swindon putting us out of the Cup a year ago, and we really want to put that right this time around. It’s all about earning ourselves extra matches, as well as a tilt at a trophy.

“Obviously we want to keep the score as tight as we can in Wiltshire to set ourselves up for the return leg. We go into every match with the objective of winning, and that will be the aim at Blunsdon, but as a fall-back position I would be hoping we can hold them to no more than ten points around their place.

“We have certainly got the ability to do it. KK is on fire at the moment, as he showed in his GP Qualifier – he is SO hungry to get back in the series – and Bomber is hoping to fight another day as a Wildcard. He showed what he is still about on a World stage by coming so close to claiming an automatic spot in his round.

“Scott (Nicholls) is busy racking up double figure scores, and Aaron (Summers) is popping in the points quietly in the engine room. And Eddie (Kennett) had a really good meeting (paid 11) guesting at Lakeside last night, which will set him up nicely for Swindon too. We just need to get Max (Clegg) going but the pressure shouldn’t be on him if rest of the side is firing.”

“BP Mitchell” Rockets:

Max Clegg, Emil Grondal (guest), Chris Harris, Krzysztof Kasprzak, Edward Kennett, Scott Nicholls (captain), Aaron Summers

Swindon:

Troy Batchelor, David Bellego, Adam Ellis, Tobiasz Musielak, Nick Morris (captain), Jack Smith, Zach Wajtknecht