Saturday April 01, 2017
THE BMR Rockets enjoyed the perfect arrival at the sport’s top table, as a packed stadium and white-hot atmosphere combined with terrific racing and all-round team effort to see the new boys home 51-41 against defending champions Wolverhampton in the first match of the SGB Premiership campaign.

The Wolves briefly threatened to play party poopers when Freddie Lindgren and Kyle Howarth opened with a 5-1 over Rye House captain Edward Kennett and Stuart Robson, but Rob Branford and Ellis Perks immediately brought the Rockets level with a maximum of their own in Heat 2. Chris “Bomber” Harris followed that display up by delivering one of his trademark from-the-back displays to come from fourth to last to win the next race, and then Scott Nicholls cut back inside on the very last bend to overhaul Australian Champion Sam Masters and capture Heat 4. With Ellis Perks also coming from the back to take third spot, the Rockets had the 4-2 that put them in front - to stay - at 16-14.

Kennett and Robson put the Hertfordshire side further in front in Heat 6, taking advantage of Masters’ second bend lock-up to surge through for a 5-1, and with Perks collecting his first race win in the Black, Chrome and Orange and Nicholls tucked in behind him for good measure in Heat 7, the Rockets swiftly pushed ahead to 26-16.

Kyle Howarth gave the visitors a glimmer of hope by winning the next heat when racing for double points as a Tactical Rider, and the 2015 British U-21 Champion took another chequered flag in Heat 11, followed home by Nicholls and Lindgren as the Midlanders pulled the score back to 37-32.

The points spread was reduced to just four after both Perks and Clegg fell in separate incidents in Heat 12, Adam Skornicki’s race win over Harris bringing the score to 39-35.

That was as close as it got, however, with Kennett and Nicholls outpacing Masters to follow home Lindgren in the next stanza, and then Davey Watt and Rob Branford clinching the victory by finishing either side of Jacob Thorssell in the penultimate heat, as the score moved back to an unassailable 46-40.

Wolverhampton still harboured hopes of taking home a consolation match point for an away defeat of 6 points or less, but those ambitions were swiftly ended when Harris and Nicholls rounded off an emotional night in Hoddesdon by leaving Lindgren and Howarth trailing in the finale.

As Bomber himself said afterwards, ““It was a great team performance from everyone tonight. From one to seven, we all plugged in the points. The crowd was right behind us too; they were our extra man out there. They were a real surge of adrenalin for us. We’re here to entertain, and if they can come back like this every week they will really keep us going. The management have put a lot of money into this project too, and hopefully the supporters will see that, come back every week and we can put on some good racing for them.”

Anyone who had doubted beforehand that Rye House would not prove a “Chris Harris track” was in for a rude awakening as early as Heat 3. “I don’t mind little tracks; I started at Trelawney and that was smaller than here! I’m a racer, and tonight’s track was prepared really well and you could race on it.”

The Rockets face a busy month ahead, with home matches alone to come against Swindon, King’s Lynn and Poole. “We’ve laid a real marker down by beating the Wolves. Obviously, Swindon will be tough next week, but they’re all going to be tough this year, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away and do our own thing without worrying about what other teams are doing.

“Beating the League Champions is a good way to start.”

The New Adventure is only beginning.

Rye House scorers:

Chris Harris 12+1, Scott Nicholls 10+3, Edward Kennett 9, Ellis Perks 6+1, Robert Branford 6, Davey Watt 5, Stuart Robson 3+2.

Wolverhampton scorers:

Kyle Howarth 13+1, Fredrik Lindgren 9+1, Adam Skornicki 7+1, Sam Masters 6, Jacob Thorssell 5+1, Nathan Greaves 1, Max Clegg 0.

Match Points: Rye House 3 Wolverhampton 0