By Paul Watson
The much fancied big guns of Somerset were silenced by the Eastbourne Eagles at Arlington Stadium on Saturday night (April 13).
The home side had far too much fire power for one of the teams tipped for glory in speedway’s Championship league.
The visitors’ No 1, Rory Schlein, flew away to win his first two races but after that did not take another chequered flag all evening.
Big surprise was the form of Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris.
He is touted as one of the big stars of this league but he was a shadow of what fans had expected.
He had no race wins to his name and totally failed to shine.
Harris and Schlein were both eclipsed by Eastbourne’s heatleader trio of Richard Lawson, captain Edward Kennett, from Hailsham, and Lewi Kerr.
Lawson hit a 15-point maximum while Kennett and Kerr only dropped one point apiece to the opposition.
There were also encouraging returns from the Eagles’ second strings and reserves.
Alfie Bowtell, who had a nightmare first meeting with machine problems, looked much more the part on Saturday.
He went into the new season with new kit was disappointed when it failed in the opener against Birmingham.
Ahead of the Somerset match, Bowtell checked his machines to try and work out what went wrong…it appears chaining the coil did the trick.
Will Pottinger, who assists co-promoter Trevor Geer with managing the Fineprint Eagles, said a solid performance by all seven riders was a significant factor in such a big win.
“We had only one last place and have to be happy with that,” he commented.
Pottinger added: “I thought it was going to be a lot tighter than it was last week against Birmingham.
“Somerset have a good team, good heatleaders, well experienced and I was expecting a tough challenge.
“We made a good start to the meeting and kept the hammer down from there. “We are obviously delighted.”
Eastbourne are now in a good position to make progress in the Championship Shield, which is run on a regionalised mini-league.
They have won their two home meetings (against Somerset sand Birmingham) and opened up a big points difference which might be vital in deciding which team goes through to the semi-finals.
EASTBOURNE 63: Richard Lawson 14+1, Edward Kennett 13+1, Lewis Kerr 11, Tom Brennan 9+1, Georgie Wood 6, Alfie Bowtell 5+3, Ben Morley 5+2.
SOMERSET 27: Rory Schlein 12, Justin Sedgmen 6, Chris Harris 5+1, Anders Rowe 2, Valentin Grobauer 1, Henry Atkins 1, Todd Kurtz 0.
Man of the match, sponsored by The Holly Bush: Richard Lawson.