Edinburgh Monarchs brushed aside Ipswich Witches 56-36 in last night’s dramatic Premier League clash at Armadale to extend their winning run to 12 matches and stay top of the Premier Division.
However, the Witches sprung a huge shock in the very first race when Richie Worrall and classy American Gino Manzares stormed to a 5-1 over Monarchs’ top star Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen.
Thankfully for the Monarchs, the visitors, while competitive, never had the impetus to put the brakes on a Monarchs juggernaut which just keeps rolling.
By the start of the second half, Monarchs really got into their stride and seized control of proceedings, erasing that first-race setback.
But drama reared its head in heat 11 when Monarchs’ reserve Aaron Fox clattered into the air fence on the first bend, sparking fears he had suffered a broken leg after his clutch lever caught him on the thigh.
After a 20-minute delay, he was taken to hospital as a precaution, but early indications are he has escaped with nothing more than a gash to his leg which will require stitching.
Monarchs skipper Derek Sneddon said: “It looked a nasty pile-up to begin with and we all thought Aaron had sustained a broken femur. Thankfully he has had a lucky escape, but nobody likes to see any accident happen on track.”
Ironically, Fox had scored five paid six-points from his first two races and looked pretty comfortable out in front when he defeated Adam Ellis and Ritchie Hawkins in heat two.
Sneddon himself took a tumble on the third bend in heat 14, but walked away unhurt. However, the Falkirk-based rider was pretty unhappy after failing to score from his first two outings and only atoned for that by winning heat nine, getting the better of Witches ace Rohan Tungate, who was on a tactical ride for the visitors.
Said Sneddon: “I don’t really know what happened in my first two rides. I had no idea what was going on. I was missing the starts and couldn’t get going at all, so I was glad to pick up that win in the ninth race.”
Sneddon believed that the team losing that first race was an eye opener for a lot of people, especially as Worrall equalled Cook’s track record of 55.01.
“We just did that to keep people on the edge of their seats”, he laughed, “but to be fair, Ipswich were pretty good early on and we certainly did not take anything for granted.”
Sneddon’s team-mate Sam Masters was again amongst the points, scoring ten from his five starts and paid tribute to the impact Ipswich made at the start of the meeting.
“They hit us very hard right from the off and gave us something of a fright, but we kept our cool and got the win that I think we deserved in the end,” he said. “It was just a shame that it was clouded slightly by the accident to Aaron, but hopefully he will bounce back quickly from it.”
Another Monarch who wasn’t exactly full of joy was Max Fricke, who looked a bit out of sorts and failed to win a race, which is pretty unusual for the youngster round his own track.
“I was a wee bit disappointed with how I rode, but the track was a bit tricky. The main thing was that everybody chipped in with points and that counts for a lot when it comes to winning matches,” he said.
And Cook wasn’t downhearted at trailing in third in heat one, saying: “I can’t get maximums all the time. The important aspect was we took the match points and at the end of the day this is what counts.”
Steve Worrall, Richie’s twin, once more dominated at reserve for Monarchs with 11 points, which included a brace of wins.
“Ipswich certainly put up a decent fight,” he said, “but we showed our strength by not panicking and we eked out a pretty comfortable victory to keep us top of the league.”
Ipswich were basically a one-man band, with Worrall snatching 14 points from his No.1 role. He lacked any solid support, apart from Manzares, who looked impressive on what was his first visit to Armadale.
However, Rohan Tungate and Cameron Heeps should be doing better than they are for Ipswich and nine points between them will not be considered good enough by the Ipswich management team.
So Monarchs go for win number 13 against a changed Newcastle Diamonds squad next Friday. Home supporters can’t wait.
Monarchs: Cook 13, R. Worrall 11, Masters 10, Sedgmen 7, Fricke 7, Fox 5, Sneddon 3.
Ipswich: R. Worrall 14, Manzares 6, Heeps 6, Risager 5, Tungate 3, Hawkins 2, Ellis 0.