Rockets face the Rebels, not once, but twice, in what will be a tough weekend for John Sampford’s side

As Rye House team manager John Sampford is keen to stress, there are no easy matches in this season’s Premier League.

Accordingly, a tough 2014 programme becomes even harder this coming weekend as the Silver Ski Rockets face up to defending League Champions and Knock-Out Cup holders Somerset not once but twice in a 24 hour period.

The Rockets go west to the Oak Tree Arena for Friday’s first clash, with the Rebels quickly returning the favour in Hoddesdon on Saturday night (7pm start).

With two World Championship events also scheduled for Saturday, both sides will be calling on guest replacements for absent riders. Jason Garrity will miss both Premier League fixtures as he is away in Germany riding for Great Britain in the U-21 World Cup. The Rockets will operate Rider-Replacement as coverage on Friday night and will have Ritchie Hawkins – who was unbeaten in four completed rides for Ipswich in the last fixture at Rye – in place for Saturday’s match in Hertfordshire.

Mathieu Tresarrieu will miss only the Saturday meeting as he competes in a Grand Prix Qualifying round at Berwick. His guest cover will be Plymouth’s Sam Simota, who has impressed with paid scores of 10 and 7 in two visits with the Devils this season.

The U-21 World Cup Semi-Final in Teterow has also claimed the services of Somerset No.1 Nick Morris. The Australian’s place in both matches will be filled by Newcastle’s Stuart Robson, who needs little introduction to Rye House fans. “Robbo” will always feature in local folklore for his two and a bit campaigns in Hertfordshire, his role in the 2005 Cup and Trophy double and his never-say-die heroics.

Additionally, the Rockets will be missing Stefan Nielsen for both matches, although not for fitness reasons. The double British U-19 Champion is expected back in the saddle following his heavy crash against Plymouth, but is committed to Belle Vue – for whom he rides in an Elite League Fast Track role – on both nights. Dan Greenwood will deputise on Friday, with Ben Morley stepping in again for Saturday’s return match.

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Friday’s first match at Somerset will be a case of the Rockets entering the lion’s den, as the Rebels have racked up some big recent scores at the Oak Tree Arena this season. Their last four home fixtures have seen them wipe out Ipswich 67-27, soar past Workington 60-30, trample Redcar 68-24 and ease past Scunthorpe 55-35.

Sampford is under no illusion as to the task at hand but is determined to avoid a defeatist attitude. “Somerset’s record at home speaks for itself, but we will go there in a positive frame of mind to score as many points as we can. It’s all about the riders performing to their potential, and Peterborough and Plymouth have already shown that it is possible to take something away from a trip there. It can be done.”

Sampford expects a tense, tight return match the following night at Rye. “The Rebels have already shown what they can do around our place with a League Cup win in April. It will also be a bit of a Rye House Old Boys Club in their section of the pits, with Stuart Robson, Olli Allen, Pontus Aspgren and Paul Starke all there.

“We’re really determined, though, to show what could, and should, have been against Ipswich - and Saturday provides that opportunity. Machinery problems for Steve Boxall and Jason Garrity undoubtedly cost us that match against the Witches.

“We’ll be missing Jason, Mathieu Tresarrieu and Stefan Nielsen on Saturday, but we’ve got good guests in place. Ritchie Hawkins was a real ace in the pack for Ipswich last Saturday, Sam Simota has also been excellent around Rye in his visits with Plymouth and Ben Morley led home the field in Heat 2 against the Witches.”

Rye House team (away, Friday): Luke Bowen, Steve Boxall, Jason Bunyan (captain), Jason Garrity R/R, Dan Greenwood (guest), Edward Kennett, Mathieu Tresarrieu

Rye House team (home, Saturday): Luke Bowen, Steve Boxall, Jason Bunyan (captain), Ritchie Hawkins (guest), Edward Kennett, Ben Morley (guest), Sam Simota (guest)

Somerset team (both matches): Olli Allen (captain), Pontus Aspgren, Brady Kurtz, Todd Kurtz, Stuart Robson (guest), Paul Starke, Charles Wright

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