Edinburgh Monarchs made a promising start to their Premier League play-off campaign by snatching a vital away point against Workington Comets at Derwent Park on Saturday.
Monarchs only lost 47-43 but then ran their hosts even closer in the rearranged league match which followed as they were squeezed out 46-44 which also earned them a point.
Monarchs No. 1 Craig Cook was on fire as he romped to 15-point maximums in both meetings, but stressed the importance of ensuring the team got off to a flier in the high stakes play-off clash.
“Getting a point was so important for us and it has given us a good launch pad. After getting knocked out of the cup on Friday this has given everybody a boost and hopefully we can build on that now.
“I don’t think anybody will beat us at Armadale so if we can get something at Ipswich next month this could pull us through to the Grand Final.”
Cook, a former Workington rider, played down his ten-ride unbeaten haul, saying: “Maximums are not that important to me it’s how the rest of the team rides which counts, although ten rides without getting beaten, is a bit crazy. But it is my job to go out and score points and I don’t think I could have done any better.”
As ever at Workington it was all about getting out of the gate and Cook was the only Monarch who manufactured any passing manoeuvres. He added: “I know Workington like the back of my hand and you have got to ride it on the edge. I ride it well and like racing there because I have done so many laps around the place. But we all rode pretty well and would have taken a point before the match.”
The scores were tied 39-39 in the play-off contest after heat 13, but Monarchs then lost a 5-1 in the next race with Jozsef Tabaka and Max Fricke stranded at the start and unable to make any impression on Comets duo Rusty Harrison and guest Chris Schramm who proved a trump card at reserve bagging 13 points.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “That was a critical race for us and had Jozsef and Max made the gate it could have been decidedly different and an overall match draw would have been a possibility.
“But we can’t dwell on it, we got a point and that could prove crucial in our group. You have got to try and pick up something away from home and defend round your own track.
“This leaves a door open for our other group opponents Ipswich to go to Workington and win, however Workington defeated them easily in the cup so Ipswich might get nothing and that outcome would definitely benefit us.”
Harkess was buoyed by the performance of his squad after stating that certain riders had plenty to prove. “They all chipped in with something, but other than Craig, who was immense, no one else could pass.
“It is our aim now to collect all three points in the return fixture on Friday, and anything less then I will be very disappointed. We did not leave Workington empty handed that was the main thing.
“I know Workington were disappointed at dropping a home point, so we have to be very happy with the one we got, we have made a good start to our campaign and let’s drive on from there.”
Workington had Tero Aarnio out injured and used the rider replacement facility as cover.
Workington:- Schramm 13, Harrison 10, Bach 8, Lawson 8, Howarth 6, Mills 2.
Monarchs:- Cook 15, Pijper 7, Vissing 7, Fricke 7, Sneddon 3, Tabaka 3, Payne 1.