Saturday July 15, 2017
It had been a full month since they were last in home action, but the BMR Rockets made it well worth the wait as their revamped side edged out defending champions Wolverhampton 48-42 in a tight, tense battle at Rye House to re-state their claim for a Play-Off spot.

The pivotal point in an enthralling contest came in Heat 12. In a match in which neither side had led by more than two points at that stage, the Rockets had just bounced back from a Wolves 5-1 two races earlier with one of their own – from Scott Nicholls and Stuart Robson against Freddie Lindgren and Kyle Howarth - to re-take the advantage, at 34-32, and Bens Barker and Morley were pitted here against the undefeated – and seemingly unbeatable - Rory Schlein and eager former Rye star Ellis Perks.

Obviously, no one told “The B & B Connection” about the opposing threat, because Rye guest Morley shot from the tapes and was soon joined at the front by his partner, who then proceeded to keep Perks at bay for the duration in a sensational display that brought the house down and also gave the Hertfordshire side the 39-33 cushion they desperately needed.

While Sam Masters won Heat 13, Nicholls and Chris Harris filled the supporting places, and then Robson – completing a marathon seven race programme – took the next heat to clinch the match with a race to spare.

The Rockets had the opportunity to block Wolverhampton’s opportunity for a consolation match point by taking a heat advantage from the final race, but fell just short despite Harris’ best efforts to get past leader Masters. With Nicholls third ahead of a fading Schlein, the finale was shared as the Wolves duly collected the point that in fairness their own efforts deserved.

As he had done on Monday at Monmore Green, Stuart Robson topped the Rockets’ score chart, this time with paid 13, with both Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls just behind him on paid 12. Former Rocket and Raider Ben Morley proved an astute guest for Rob Branford, whose season is now unfortunately over, with paid 7, just one behind Ben Barker, who enjoyed a memorable home debut for his new side.

The Cornishman was more than happy with that first home meeting. “I set a target for tonight of 8 points, and I scored 7+1, so I am over the moon. I’ve just got to adapt to the Rye House track, and I will get better and better every week.”

Barker’s summary of that memorable Heat 12? “I knew the meeting was tight, and then Ben popped out of the start. Everyone knows that I can team ride, so (I thought) let’s see how good it is, because it was my first time here as a Rocket. I brought him home for a 5-1, which was a great feeling.

“I’m loving it here already. The side is mainly British, which does help, and it’s good.
Look at Robbo (Stuart Robson), with paid 13 tonight. There aren’t many reserves who can do that in the league, and it was a great performance. If he keeps doing that, then he’ll be up in the main body and I might have a little stint down there. That would be nice!

“But I’m really enjoying it. I don’t feel any pressure; I just go out and enjoy my riding and let the results come for themselves.

“The away matches are crucial, and everyone knows I give 100%. So we’ll be looking to get something on the road wherever we go. We’ll just get out there and get stuck in.”

The next opportunity to do that comes at King’s Lynn on Wednesday, and Barker is looking forward to the team’s short trip up the A10. “It’s one of my favourite tracks: just get out there and go fast! We also need Sedgy (the currently sidelined Justin Sedgmen) back for that one, because he is good around there. To get the full squad back together, and get the team riding really well as a seven would be great.”

BMR Rockets:
Stuart Robson 12+1 (7 rides), Chris Harris 10+2 (5), Scott Nicholls 10+2 (5), Ben Barker 7+1 (5), Ben Morley (guest) 6+1 (4), Ricky Wells 3 (4), Justin Sedgmen R/R

Sam Masters 13 (5 rides), Rory Schlein 9 (5), Kyle Howarth 6 (4), Freddie Lindgren 5+1 (4), Ellis Perks (guests) 4+2 (5), Jacob Thorssell 3 (4), Nathan Greaves 2 (3)

Match Points: Rye House 3 Wolverhampton 1