A PATCHED-UP Newcastle Diamonds team proved no match for the all conquering Edinburgh Monarchs last night.
The hosts crushed the Diamonds 57-38 to stay top of the Premier League and also extended their winning sequence to 13 in a row.
The match proved something of a personal triumph for American star Aaron Fox, who badly gashed his thigh against Ipswich Witches last week, sparking fears that he could be sidelined for two or three weeks.
But Fox gritted his teeth and returned to the saddle displaying the same gusto he exuded before his accident against the Witches. Fox picked up seven points from his four outings which is his best score since joining Monarchs.
And the highlight of his races came in heat 14 when he brilliantly picked off Newcastle’s Lewis Kerr on the first bend to take the chequered flag in tremendous style. Fox is now starting to gate a lot better and this is helping the Californian to a big degree.
He was delighted with his performance, saying: “I knew I had to ride just to get over all the doubts I had during the week about turning out. Had I chosen not to race – and at one point things did go back and forth in my mind – I might have regretted it and that would have definitely played on my mind.
“More importantly, I thought I rode pretty well and was pleased with my score.
Reflecting on his win against Kerr, Fox added: “Lewis is a tough customer and a good gater, but I managed to get past him on the first turn and held on to take the win.
“I just want to keep this momentum going. Before my crash, I had been happy with my score last week and I just want to keep things going. I feel my confidence is growing and, if you can make the starts, winning races is so much easier.
“I will definitley be looking for the same kind of display at Glasgow Tigers tomorrow.”
Newcastle are a side in the doldrums right now and their decison to sign Danny King as their new No.1 has given their squad a lopsided look and they are certainly lacking firepower at the lower end of the scale. They are basically a four-man outfit and this was emphasised by the fact that guest Ryan McDonald and Dan Greenwood only mustered two points between them at reserve compared to the 15 points Fox and Steve Worrall claimed for Monarchs.
Monarchs were 32-21 ahead at the halfway stage and, although Newcastle were quicker out of the traps in the second half, they simply did not possess enough race winners to trouble Monarchs.
Newcastle may have the best record of any visiting team to Armadale but they resembled also-rans on this occasion which must be causing team manager George English some pretty sleepless nights.
“We are struggling at the moment,” he admitted. “We have had injury troubles but we will bounce back stronger then ever.”
For Monarchs, it was just another day at the office yet Craig Cook might have been surprised not to have strolled to another five-ride maximum. But the Monarchs ace was beaten fair and square by Diamonds skipper Stuart Robson in heat ten and could have no complaints about finishing second best. He said: “I got stuck a bit near the back and just couldn’t quite catch Stuart, who, of course, is a decent rider. But yet again everybody did their job and we march on for now.”
The best scrap of the night happened two heats later when Worrall and Max Fricke made Robson the meat in the sandwich as they squeezed him out on the fourth bend to win the race to rapturous applause.
Fricke was happy to be back amongst the points again after he slightly disappointed against Ipswich. The Aussie scored ten which included a brace of heats wins and he also took the scalp of King in the fifth race. “I enjoyed that win”, said Fricke. “I certainly knew Danny was behind me nipping at my heels but I held on and it was a good win for me. Getting a couple of race wins also pleased me after last week. It felt good.”
Robson was Newcastle’s top scorer with 11, but Kerr also impressed with his tigerish efforts and his victories against Worrall in successive heats were not to be sniffed at.
Ultimately Monarchs’ all-round strength exposed Newcastle’s shortcomings and it is going to take a team of exceptional quality to lower the blue and gold standard which continues to flutter briskly at the Lothian Arena for now.
Monarchs: Cook 13, Fricke 10, Masters 8, Worrall 8, Fox 7, Sedgmen 6, Sneddon 5.
Newcastle: Robson 11, King 10, Kerr 9, Lingren 6, Greenwood 2, McDonald 0.