Stars lose a thriller
Somerset 46, King's Lynn 44KING'S Lynn Stars lost a final heat thriller in a televised Premier League spectacular at the Oak Tree Arena.Skipper Tomas Topinka hit the shale twice after tangling with maximum man Steve Johnston before trundling to a halt in the third instalment of a winner-takes-all finale.
Somerset 46, King's Lynn 44
KING'S Lynn Stars lost a final heat thriller in a televised Premier League spectacular at the Oak Tree Arena.
Skipper Tomas Topinka hit the shale twice after tangling with maximum man Steve Johnston before trundling to a halt in the third instalment of a winner-takes-all finale.
Chris Schramm needed to split Somerset's big hitting duo Johnston and Corey Gathercole to force a draw but Lynn's fast-gating second string was squeezed out. Schramm's superb pass around Jay Herne in the penultimate heat looked to have tipped the balance in Lynn's favour as Darcy Ward anchored a big max.
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The nerveless Aussie U21 champion showcased his talents in front a nationwide audience with another stunning paid 18 haul from reserve. South American sidekick Emiliano Sanchez (paid nine) chipped in with a solid showing but Somerset's former Elite League ace Johnston earned top billing with a faultless five-ride nap hand. Topinka blasted from the tapes in the opener but Johnston used all his newly acquired track knowledge to fire around the outside of the Czech.
Jan Graversen pocketed the minor spoils to square the first of five shared heats in the Premier League curtain raiser. He blotted his copybook in the next with a 15 metre penalty for touching the tapes - Ward limiting the damage at the start of a busy evening.
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Schramm and Christian Henry double teamed Justin Sedgmen behind the impressive Emil Kramer. Gathercole lined up Ward before pouncing around the outside but Sanchez cut back to reel in Tom Brown. Lynn broke the spell when Sedgemen was excluded after careering into the back of Graversen - Topinka repelling Kramer in a last bend assault.
Stars' team boss Rob Lyon deployed Ward on a clever reserve switch but Johnston showed his class to emerge unscathed from a first bend crowd scene. Gathercole drew Somerset level in heat seven following Schramm's shunt into the boards. Ward and Sanchez proved Norfolk Arena team riding skills work equally well in the West Country with the first decisive move of the contest. Ward policed the inside line as Sanchez swept around the outside for the opening maximum to move Lynn four clear at half way.
Kramer threw up a one man barricade to foil Schramm and Ward before Johnston and Gathercole hit back in a crackerjack heat ten.
Schramm's engine failure blew a potential 5-1 for the visitors as first Johnston and then Gathercole swarmed all over Christian Henry.
Aussie teens Ward and Sedgmen suspended their long standing friendship for four laps to set up a grandstand finish. Topinka looked odds on to inflict Johnston's first defeat of the night in heat 13 only for the experienced racer to power around the dirt line to nudge Somerset two clear.
Schramm wound it on in the penultimate heat to silence the sizeable Rebels' contingent before Topinka's mechanical woes gifted them a match-clinching final heat win.
Rebels: Johnston 15, Sedgmen 2, Kramer 8, Gathercole 14+2, Herne 5, Brown 2+1.
Stars: Topinka 9, Henry 5+1, Schramm 5+1, Sanchez 7+2, Graversen 2+1, Ward 16+2.