After two washouts because of rain, Edinburgh Monarchs finally got their Premier League speedway campaign up and running at Armadale last night.
And what an impressive start the capital outfit made, as they crushed Scunthorpe Scorpions 59-34, heightening belief that Monarchs are well capable of winning the return clash at the Lincolnshire venue on Monday.
Scunthorpe had been perceived as a team who were likely to give Monarchs a stern examination. In truth, the opposite was true. Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess observed: “It was just as well that Scunthorpe had two guests in for their missing riders, otherwise it could have been a lot worse for them.”
Former Monarch Theo Pijper stepped in for Scorpions injured No.1 Anders Mellgren and Pijper’s hefty 13-point haul, which included a double points win in heat 11, was a godsend for the misfiring Scorpions, who were also thankful that stand-in reserve Mason Campton scored six, encompassing an impressive victory over Monarchs’ in-form tail-ender Steve Worrall in the second race.
However, the rest of the Scorpions toiled like an insect in treacle and never looked like springing a major shock against a Monarchs side who stretched their unbeaten run to nine meetings in a row.
Yet after the first two heats were shared, Monarchs could have faced a sticky time. But by the halfway mark they led 30-18 and effectively had knocked the stuffing out of their rivals.
Under new averages, Aussie Justin Sedgmen moved into the main body of the Monarchs side and after failing to score in his first ride, he quickly improved, winning his second outing and finishing with a very creditable six-point total.
Sedgmen’s most impressive move came in the eighth race when he pulled off an amazing cut-back on the second bend to follow partner Worrall home for a 5-1 over David Howe and Campton.
Said Sedgmen: “It makes no difference where you ride in the team, it’s how you ride. I must admit I felt tense in my first outing, but I was fine after that. It was good to get that 5-1 with Steve. I didn’t made a good gate so knew I had to do something special on that second corner, and I did.”
Sedgmen added that he wasn’t surprised Monarchs proved so dominant. “We are a really strong team and everybody is capable of popping up with points and that’s a big advantage to have so early in the season,” he said. “I definitely think we can get a win down there on Monday. That is our aim.”
Aaron Fox swapped places with Sedgmen at reserve and the American picked up three points and wasn’t that far off the pace.
He said: “ ’m just trying the best I can to get points for the team and all the guys are so supportive of me. Because I’m at reserve it doesn’t make it any easier and you still want to go out and win your races. But I’m getting there and things will come good.”
Craig Cook topped Monarchs’ scorechart with 13 points, his best win coming in heat ten. Ryan Douglas was out on a tactical ride for the Scorpions and looked like denying Cook victory, especially after the Monarchs ace made a hash of the fourth bend. This error just seemed to galvanise Cook, who grabbed the chequered flag after Douglas fell on the third bend of the last lap.
It was a great effort though from Douglas, who was worth far more than his eventual four point tally.
Sam Masters was also in the thick of the action and his victory over a tenacious Ashley Birks in heat seven was a humdinger. This added to the victory he had over Josh Auty and Campton three heats earlier.
“I felt pretty good,” said Masters. “It was a decent meeting, the whole team chipped in with something and this makes us very difficult to beat.”
Mention must be made of Worrall, who continues to have the midas touch at the tail-end. He bagged 13 points from his five starts and it’s little wonder he is one of the most in demand riders’ in the country right now.
Scunthorpe will rue the fact that their most experienced performer Howe, a former Scottish Open Champion, had a nightmare, scoring a paltry four points and his tame display certainly made life all the more easier for the rampant Monarchs, who are flying at the moment.
Monarchs: Cook 13, Worrall 13, Masters 9, Fricke 8, Sneddon 7, Sedgmen 6,Fox 3.
Scunthorpe: Pijper 13, Campton 6, Howe 4, Douglas 4, Auty 3, Birks 4, Williamson 0.