Craig Cook rides to a maximum as Monarchs hold Witches

Danny King (red helmet) takes the lead from Richie Worrall during the rerun of the opening heat.  Picture: Ron MacNeill

Danny King (red helmet) takes the lead from Richie Worrall during the rerun of the opening heat. Picture: Ron MacNeill

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Injury-hit Edinburgh Monarchs turned in a brilliant display against in-form Ipswich Witches last night to snatch a dramatic 45-45 draw in one of the best meetings of the season.

The result keeps Monarchs at the top of the Premier League.

Yet Monarchs missed a golden opportunity to make a flying start to the meeting when Witches No. 1 Danny King burst the tapes in the first race and had to start from 15 metres back. But Monarchs duo Richie Worrall and Justin Sedgmen failed to capitalise as King rode a blinder to take the chequered flag in fantastic style.

And Monarchs suffered in the next heat when reserve Max Clegg went through the tapes handing an easy 5-1 to Witches tail-end duo Ashley Morris and Stefan Nielsen. Monarchs then gated in a 5-1 position in heat three but Rohan Tungate overhauled Kevin Wolbert and Erik Riss to grab a share of the spoils instead as Ipswich maintained their early lead, 11-7.

Monarchs reduced their arrears to just two points when Worrall and Sedgmen grabbed 4-2 in heat four after Tungate retired, and with Monarchs skipper Craig Cook defeating King in the following heat, Monarchs remained very much in touch in what was proving a see-saw encounter in spite of Ipswich being a lot stronger down at reserve.

The next two races were shared, Monarchs Aussie star Sedgmen gaining his first win in heat eight, as the Witches led 25-23 with Monarchs breathing down their necks.

However, the Witches then suffered a big blow in the ninth race when their No. 3 ace Gino Manzares crashed on the second bend of the first lap with a suspected injury to his coccyx. He was taken to hospital which caused a delay to proceedings.

On the resumption Monarchs levelled the match, 27-27, with a 4-2 from Cook and Clegg in the rerun of the ninth race. But they fell behind almost immediately in heat ten when King and Cameron Heeps easily got the better of Monarchs German pairing Riss and Woilbert for a crucial 5-1 and a lead of 32-28.

Incredibly Monarchs squared the match again with a superb 5-1 from Worrall and Sedgmen in heat ten and at this stage no-one dared wager on the final outcome.

A bike failure by Witches reserve Stefan Nielsen in heat 12 gifted Monarchs a golden 5-1 courtesy of Wolbert and Clegg as the Capital side got their noses in front for the first time, 38-84, talk about a page turner of a match!

And the Witches took the meeting to the final race after Tungate and Morris outflanked Riss and Clegg in heat 14 to tie the scores once again 42-42.

It remained all square with heat 15 being shared 3-3, Cook taking the chequered flag to complete a superb 15-point maximum and earning Monarchs a deserved and breathtaking draw.

Monarchs boss John Campbell said: “It was another great result for us against a team who are in good form. And Craig Cook was absolutely magnificent.”

Ipswich: King 12, Tungate 9, Morris 8, Covatti 7, Heeps 5, Manzares 2, Nielsen 2.

Monarchs: Cook 15, Sedgmen 8, Worrall 7, Wolbert 6, Riss 5, Clegg 4, Greenwood 0