Last-heat thrill for Rockets
Rye House Rockets 45 Newport 44THE Rockets hauled themselves back from the brink of disaster to win a last heat decider in the most exciting match seen at Rye this season.
Rye House Rockets 45 Newport 44
THE Rockets hauled themselves back from the brink of disaster to win a last heat decider in the most exciting match seen at Rye this season.
They had to do so without Tommy Allen, whose 2009 injury blight continues almost unabated.
Still nursing an ankle injury from the cup match at Edinburgh the night before, he was involved in a frightening spill.
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Chasing down Jonas Andersson in heat two, Allen clipped the Swede's machine on the third bend, straightened up and powered through and over the fence, hitting the guard rail on the inside of the ex-greyhound track. Miraculously, he escaped with just concussion.
Tired from their long haul back from Edinburgh, the remaining Rockets found the inner strength to pull themselves out of the fire of an early seven point deficit and two later shortfalls of five.
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Joe Haines proved their biggest hero, with two wins and 12 paid points, with key support from Luke Bowen and Linus Sundstrom.
Mention should also be made of Andrew Silver's paid 13 from a full run of seven outings. "Hi Ho" was left bruised from a fall after Jordan Frampton brought him down in heat 14, yet he returned to complete the re-run - and secure a 5-1 with Bowen.
Full credit must also go to a battling Wasps side that totally belied their bottom of the table position.
David Howe proved a fine guest for the injured Leigh Lanham, Chris Kerr enjoyed his best ever visit to Rye and Frampton dropped his only points through his exclusion for his collision with Silver.
Kerr and Frampton proved a fine tandem, combining for 5-1s in all three of their appearances together.
Their first gave the Welsh side a 12-5 advantage at heat 3, while - after Silver had won a tremendous duel with the Paul Fry to join Sundstrom for a Rye maximum in the next race - their second in heat seven pushed the Wasps to 23-18.
Silver and Joe Haines - from the back against Jonas Andersson - pulled some of the deficit back with a 4-2 in heat eight, and Haines and Bowen then combined for a 5-1 over Fry in the next race to give Rye the lead for the first time, at 27-26.
The Rockets' joy was short-lived, however, as Kerr and Frampton quickly put Newport back in front with a 5-1 against a chasing Chris Neath in heat 10.
Another visiting advantage - this time a 4-2 sparked by Howe's third win of the night - took the margin to 35-30 after heat 11.
With Newport holding a comfortable advantage, and with three of their riders unbeaten, there looked to be no way back for the Rockets.
But it all changed, as all three unbeaten runs were ended in quick succession.
Kerr's record was the first to fall in heat 12 as Haines' victory, coupled with Silver's third place, brought the score back to 37-34. Another 4-2 - this time from Sundstrom and Neath - edged the Rockets even closer. Then came Frampton's exclusion after a coming together while chasing Silver for second behind Bowen in heat 14.
The Rye pair made no mistake in the re-run, and their 5-1 gave the Rockets back the lead, 43-40, with just one race to go.
Newport needed a 5-1 in the final to take the victory.
For a moment, they thought they had it, as Howe and Kerr led Haines and Sundstrom.
Smokin' Joe had other ideas, however, and powered past Kerr at the end of the first circuit to ensure the Rockets the narrowest of wins on the most dramatic of nights.