Panthers desperate to lay their Rebels bogey

Craig Cook in action against Plymouth Devils. Picture: David Lowdnes
Craig Cook in action against Plymouth Devils. Picture: David Lowdnes
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Promoter Ged Rathbone has told his Panthers riders to seize the moment and sink their bogey team in the chase for honours.

The city side face Somerset in an eagerly anticipated Premier League KO Cup quarter-final clash in the coming days.

The two teams meet in the opening leg at the Oaktree Arena on Tuesday (June 28) before renewing rivalries at the East of England Showground on Sunday, July 3.

A daunting challenge appears to lie ahead for Panthers. They have crashed to a series of heavy defeats on Rebels’ shale since returning to the second tier of the sport in 2014 and have also slumped to four successive home defeats at the hands of Garry May’s men.

But Rathbone has high hopes their fortunes could be about to change.

He said: “All the pressure is on Somerset as far as I’m concerned. We’re in a situation where we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

“And you only have to look at our recent performances to see that we are a strong side in very good form.

“We’ve got to beat them at some point so why not in the next two meetings? I definitely think we have the riders to do it.

“The KO Cup is a big part of our season. We want to win silverware and this competition is an opportunity to do that.”

Panthers will certainly go into battle in brilliant form. They have powered to six successive victories in all competitions – a hot streak of form which has seen them twice top the Premier League standings.

They are currently a point clear of Glasgow with Somerset four points adrift in third position and in possession of five meetings in hand. Somerset have won all six league meetings to date to emerge as strong contenders for the title.

But Panthers now possess the fastest-ever man on Somerset shale. The Oaktree Arena track record is one of five in the Premier League that are held by number one Craig Cook.

Panthers could also return to full strength for the tie with injury victim Tom Perry closing in on a quicker-than-expected return to action.