Rockets face home and away clash with Glasgow this weekend. Rye have a proud record in the KO Cup. Newcastle await the winners
With their League Cup involvement completed and their main Premier League programme soon to appear on the horizon, the Silver Ski Rockets turn their attention to the little matter of the Knock-Out Cup this weekend.
The Rockets have been drawn against Glasgow in what is a direct repeat of last season’s first round tie…. and they will also be aiming to maintain another sequence this time around. The Hertfordshire club has reached a total of five Finals to date in its history – including last season’s - and all five have seen Rye overcome Glasgow in one of the competition’s earlier rounds!
Rye will host the home leg on Saturday night – with the usual 7pm start – with the return leg scheduled for north of the border the following afternoon, at 3pm. The aggregate winners will meet Newcastle in the competition’s quarter-finals.
Wooden spoonists last season, the Tigers initially found their start to 2014 another struggle, before upending both Peterborough and Redcar in their last two matches to start their home League programme with a positive bang. Rider-wise, they have Kevin Wölbert installed at No.1 following his move to Ashfield from Elite League campaigns with King’s Lynn and Belle Vue. The double German Champion has plenty of experience around him in the Tigers’ camp courtesy of two-time European Grasstrack titlist Theo Pijper, Testimonial man Rusty Harrison and veteran Mark Lemon.
Exciting teenage prospect Dimitri Bergé – the son of former rider Philippe Berge – is unfortunately sidelined after a nasty Heat 15 crash in the victory over the Panthers, leaving the Tigers to be completed by two other young riders. Anders Thomsen is the only survivor from last year’s team and romped to 18 points against the Bears on Sunday, while fellow Dane Kasper Lykke was a Rocket from August 2012 through to the end of last season.
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Rye House team manager John Sampford anticipates a tight battle across the two legs. “The Tigers are now moving in the right direction after a difficult start, as Peterborough and Redcar will tell you, and Kasper Lykke’s presence will add an extra sizzle to the tie.
“For our part, we’ll be drawing on all the good things we saw in Sunday’s victory over Peterborough. The big positive was obviously seeing Jason Garrity back on form, but there were other pluses too. Edward (Kennett) once again contributed everything you could ask of him as an out and out No.1, while Steve (Boxall) did well with his change of riding position and Luke (Bowen) settled very quickly into the No.2 slot. Simon (Lambert) also looked and rode much better on Sunday; he is really determined to turn things around and hopefully the points will come for him.
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“It will be a tiring tie, that’s for sure, what with the two legs less than 24 hours but nearly 400 miles apart – but it should be also be a close, exciting one across the thirty heats.”
Rye House team: Luke Bowen, Steve Boxall, Jason Bunyan (captain), Jason Garrity, Edward Kennett, Simon Lambert, Mathieu Tresarrieu
Glasgow team: Dimitri Bergé, Rusty Harrison, Mark Lemon, Kasper Lykke, Theo Pijper (captain), Anders Thomsen, Kevin Wölbert
Saturday’s main event at Rye House will be followed by six further heats of Cup action, as the Raiders collide with Milton Keynes in the first leg of the Midland Development League Knock-Out Cup.