Injury-hit Rockets manage to see off Plymouth despite the flying Ben Barker scorching to a 15-point maximum

Rye House 49 Plymouth 40

A shorthanded Silver Ski Rockets team dug deep to overcome both adversity and a spirited Plymouth Devils 49-40 in Bank Holiday Sunday action at Rye House.

The victory snapped a five match losing streak against the Devon side, a sequence that included three straight in Hertfordshire, but came at a cost.

Forced to compete without recently crowned French Grasstrack Champion Mathieu Tresarrieu, who was ruled out with an attack of gastroenteritis, the Rockets then saw Stefan Nielsen’s debut end in distress after less than a quarter of a lap. The double British U-21Champion hit the first bend safety fence at speed in Heat 2 and was subsequently signed out of the meeting with suspected concussion and potential thumb and scaphoid injuries.

It was only the start of an enthralling meeting filled with close racing, passes, further crashes and a dash or two of controversy.

The first came in Heat 8 and Plymouth’s two reserves, with James Sarjeant warned and then excluded for separate starting infringements and replacement Kyle Newman subsequently caught for similar movement at the tapes. The Devils argued that Newman deserved either a second chance, as received by his team mate, or reinstatement off a 15 metre handicap, but referee Dave Robinson cited Rule 15.1b which applies a mandatory disqualification for a second offender and threw him out of the race altogether.

Plymouth also pled their case in a Heat 12 awarded after Newman spun and caused his partner Kalle Katajisto to fall. The referee was forced to stop the race with neither Devil under power, and with Newman having impeded his own partner rather than an opponent duly declared a 5-0 in favour of Jason Garrity and Jason Bunyan who had both already passed him for the leading positions.

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As it happened, neither decision ultimately impacted on the final result and match point allocation. What did matter was the race points that were won on the track elsewhere, with a fine example Garrity’s expert first two bends in Heat 4 which provided partner Luke Bowen with the room to surge around the outside of the field for the 5-1 that gave the Rockets a 14-10 lead.

Heat 10 was just as intense, with Kalle Katajisto somehow finding a gap between Edward Kennett and Bowen to lead the race, but then hitting the safety fence when under intense pressure from Kennett.

The awarded 5-1 there pushed the points spread up to 34-26, and the 5-0 that followed in Heat 12 effectively wrapped up the match - at 42-39 - with three races to spare.

While the Rockets had no one to match the unbeaten Ben Barker, their five remaining riders all weighed in with at least paid 8, with Garrity once again topping the score-chart with 14+2 from a full complement of seven rides. The Young Lion underplayed his Marathon Man status afterwards, however. “I’m really not tired at all; I really could have gone out and done more races!

“Things are going back to where they were last season. I’m staying strong. I’m staying fit. I’m working hard. And the focus is there.”

Team manager John Sampford praised Garrity and the rest of the team afterwards. “It was real backs-to-the-wall stuff, but the boys responded to the pressure and came through with all three match points. I couldn’t ask for more.”

The Rockets now have six days’ respite until their next fixture - a crunch local derby at home to Ipswich on Saturday night - but Sampford may well have to re-juggle his resources for that one. “Mathieu (Tresarrieu) should be back from his illness for that one, but Edward (Kennett) is carrying a hand injury he picked up during the week. He somehow soldiered through five races today but Heat 15 was a race too far, which is why we used Steve (Boxall) and Luke (Bowen) in that one. He’ll need to get it looked at in the next few days so we know where we stand with him.

“Stefan (Nielsen) will need to be cleared to ride if he has suffered concussion, but he also needs an x-ray on his hand and wrist once the swelling has gone down, so we don’t yet know the full extent of his situation either.”

Rye House scorers:

Jason Garrity 14+2 (7 rides), Edward Kennett 11 (5), Steve Boxall 10+2 (6), Luke Bowen 7+2 (6), Jason Bunyan 7+1 (5), Stefan Nielsen 0 (1), Mathieu Tresarrieu R/R

Plymouth scorers:

Ben Barker 14+1 (5 rides, maximum), Rasmus Jensen 7 (5), Sam Simota 6+1 (4), Kyle Newman 5 (6), James Sarjeant 4 (guest) (5), Kalle Katajisto 2 (3), Adam Roynon 2 (3).

Match Points: Rye House 3 Plymouth 0

A depleted Raiders team mirrored their senior counterparts by clinging on through a 19-17 victory over Long Eaton in the Midland Development League fixture that followed the Premier League match. Forced to start without the injured Rob Watts, the Raiders then lost Jason Garrad following a blown engine, but a 5-1 from remaining riders Danny Ayres and Luke Harris in Heat 2 proved decisive.

Rye House: Luke Harris 9+1 (4 rides), Danny Ayres 9 (4), Jason Garrad 1+1 (2)

Long Eaton: Lee Geary 6 (3 rides), Adam Kirby 5 (3), Cameron Hoskins 4+1 (3), Ben Hewitt 2+2 (3)

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