(Somerset Rebels win the 2014 Premier Shield 107-79 on aggregate)
A thoroughly-decisive display by Somerset on Friday left Newcastle Diamonds with a mountain to scale last night at Brough Park in the deciding leg of the 2014 Premier Shield.
The Tynesiders started 25 points behind their visitors. Before a wheel was turned the Rebels had lost their skipper Oliver Allen, who fell ill at the track on arrival - Nick Morris taking over the skipper's roll.
Heat two was a huge disappointment for the home side, Paul Starke and Charles Wright jetting away to take the Rebels’ 5-1 maximum to extend their aggregate lead to 42-69 after the third race and their advantage on the night to 10-8.
Heat four was little better as Brandy Kurtz and Starke again made the perfect gate to lead and made Anton Rosen and Lewis Rose look ordinary in another maximum 5-1 which extended their advantage to 43-74.
Robson took a fine win in the fifth but, with Kerr sat on Robson’s second bike – his own having expired – the Diamonds could only share the race 3-3 and take the aggregate totals to 46-77 and 12-18 on the night.
Going into heat seven the Diamonds were 10 points down and as a result could nominate Rosen as a tactical ride for double points. He duly did the business from the gate to win well despite early pressure from Aspgren in a 6-3 heat score which made the aggregate 53-85.
Newcastle hit the power-up button in heat eight with a superb 5-1 from Rose and Henry over Todd Kurtz and the previously unstoppable Starke to get within three of the leading Rebels, and after another 3-3 in the ninth were still 18 behind on aggregate.
Despite another great maximum 5-1 in heat 10 from Henry and Lindgren, Kurtz and Aspgren put Somerset back into the lead on the night 32-31, but the 66-90 agregate meant the Rebels were too far in front with four races to go.
Team manager George English said: “We need to be performing better than this, so we’re going to knuckle down and get our problems sorted as soon as possible.
Newcastle: Ludvig Lindgren 3+1, Christian Henry 9+1, Stuart Robson 13+1, Lewis Kerr 5, Anton Rosen 8, Chris Schramm 2, Lewis Rose 5
Somerset: Nick Morris 14+1, Todd Kurtz 3+1, Brady Kurtz 6+2, Pontus Aspgren 9+2, Oliver Allen - Rider replacement, Charles Wright 9+2, Paul Starke 7+1