Edinburgh Monarchs have no wish to sound cocky ahead of tonight’s Premier League Knockout Cup quarter-final second leg tie against Berwick at Armadale, but they reckon they have got the measure of the Bandits, who are defending a 12-point lead from Wednesday’s first tie at Shielfield Park.
Monarchs bosses tried hard to suppress their feelings over their 51-39 loss, but the mood at the end of the match was not one of despair, but one of relief that they were not on the wrong end of a bigger drubbing.
And now they intend to make Berwick pay for letting them off the hook. Team manager Alex Harkess said: “The track on Wednesday did not provide any real passing, everything was on the gate, and a 12-point loss is fine. Berwick may have seemed hungrier in the first match, but we’ll be very hungry now.”
Bandits Czech rider Matej Kus was a huge influence in midweek, chalking up 17 points from reserve, but he is absent tonight because of international duty and the Bandits have drafted in Nathan Greaves.
“He’ll be a big miss for them,” added Harkess.
Monarchs, however, will be keen to get back on an even keel. Problems with bike set-ups blighted their scoring and this did not allowed them to put the Bandits under pressure.
Heat wins were hard to come by for Monarchs, who have found winning almost routine during their 24-match unbeaten spell which ended at Peterborough Panthers last weekend.
Even Stevie Worrall found things just a bit of a toil despite a stunning win over Berwick’s top pair Claus Vissing and David Bellego in the tenth heat.
He admitted: “We all struggled and I don’t really know why to be honest, But there was nowhere to pass and there was not enough dirt to drag you round the outside. It was a gater’s paradise.
“But once we did start making a few starts over the last few races, we did a lot better. Some of us did have an off night, but we all have those from time to time.”
Worrall added: “Berwick are a good side and they were better than us, but I think they’ll get smoked tonight and we will pull back the 12 points.”
If Monarchs are worried that people may be fearful that they are not taking Berwick seriously, the mask has not slipped. Sam Masters also takes the view that Berwick are not going to be given a chance of reaching the semi finals.
He said: “The match on Wednesday started pretty rough for the team losing two 5-1s against us in the first two races. But we fought hard throughout the meeting despite a lot of the guys suffering with engine problems.
“Hopefully this will have been sorted, because we really need to smash Berwick hard.”
Masters was not enamoured with his display, which netted him seven points from four rides – but no race wins.
“I wasn’t even on the pace, I struggled all night, the other guys at least all dug deep. But Berwick gave us a bit of a flogging and we have got to do our best against them and beat them in the same manner as we did to Workington Comets two weeks ago.
“But we know what’s going on round Edinburgh, we’ll be fine. I think we can pull the points back and I’m confident we’ll respond to the challenge.”
For Berwick team manager John Anderson, the knowledge that his side failed to press home their advantage might haunt him, but he points out: “It’s not us who will be doing the chasing, it’s Monarchs who have to get back the points. All we can do is defend our lead.
“It’s a blow that we haven’t got Matej Kus after his display on Wednesday, but Armadale has never really been his favourite track which softens his absence.
“We perhaps should have had more points to play with, but David (Bellego) blew his engine in one race, and Claus (Vissing) also fell off and that costs us a little.”
He added: “Overall, I was satisfied with the final scoreline. Our team put in a great effort and it could be good enough to take us through, who knows.”