Grand Final berth booked as Monarchs win at Comets

Full throttle: From left, Kyle Howarth, Sam Masters, Simon Lambert, Derek Sneddon race from the gate in heat four. Craig Cook below
Full throttle: From left, Kyle Howarth, Sam Masters, Simon Lambert, Derek Sneddon race from the gate in heat four. Craig Cook below
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“Great” was the first word Edinburgh Monarchs team boss John Campbell plucked out of the air to describe his side’s qualification for the Premier League play-off Grand Final for the second year in a row without losing any of their group matches.

Monarchs only needed a point at Workington Comets on Saturday to make sure, but their 50-40 triumph earned them all four points and they have been untouchable of late winning their last 12 meetings, a run to recall their 24-match winning streak earlier in the season.

And worryingly for their rivals, the Capital outfit have peaked again just when it matters most with the possibility of a trophy treble still very much on the cards.

Campbell told the Evening News: “It is great that we have done so well and I’m very pleased with our result at Workington.”

Monarchs’ victory at a track they haven’t had a great record at recently, was all the more remarkable given that skipper Derek Sneddon was less than 100 per cent fit following a heavy fall in the home tie at Armadale on Friday.

Sneddon feared he had broken his wrist in the pile-up with Comets’ Danish star Rene Bach but an x-ray on Saturday morning revealed this wasn’t the case so he bravely made the decision to ride.

However Campbell admitted: “It would be fair to say that Derek made a mistake in trying to ride. And after his first outing in heat two we could see it was going to be a problem, so we just made sure we got his rides out of the way as quickly as possible.”

Monarchs certainly did not get off to the dream start they craved in the first heat. No.1 Craig Cook burst through the tapes and had to start from 15 metres back and that proved too much of a handicap as Ricky Wells and guest Stuart Robson romped to a 5-1 victory, their cause helped when Cook’s team-mate Justin Sedgmen “lifted” on the back straight.

This, though, was the only hiccup Monarchs suffered as Cook and Sedgmen grabbed a 5-1 victory in the fifth race to edge the Capital side in front 16-14.

And when Steve Worrall and Max Fricke extracted maximum points two heats later, Monarchs opened a six-point gap and Workington seemed unable to respond with Monarchs proving sharp out of the gate.

But Workington were not done quite yet and surprised their visitors in heat nine when Bach and Mason Campton pulled off a 5-1 over Sam Masters and Aaron Fox to place them just two points in arrears 28-26.

However, any sustained revival proved forlorn on Workington’s part as the pair with the Midas touch, Cook and Sedgmen, closed the door on any comeback with their second 5-1 of the match in heat 11.

And when Cook and Masters repeated the trick in heat 13 Workington’s fate was sealed despite sharing the last two races.

Cook commented: “It’s an awesome team to be part of and I don’t think we are worried about who we might face in the final.

“We are so strong all the way through and whoever we might meet they should be pretty scared of us.”

Campbell said he wasn’t in the least surprised that his heroes would settle for just a single point success.

“It’s an added bonus that we got all four because we are now sitting at the top of our group and are well clear of everybody else. And it’s a nice marker to put down for the opposition.”

Some were sceptical about Campbel’s public proclamation that Monarchs would sail through their group without loss, but his confidence was never dimmed – or indeed did he ever lack belief.

“We are just riding so well right now and I believe in the team because we have so many good riders.

“We did not have an outstanding rider on Saturday night, but we still produced the majority of race winners. We are doing quite well! We have got to keep it going because there are lots of trophies to be won, and we want to lift them all.

Campbell concluded: “We just want to win and I keep telling the boys this: it’s what we want to do, and sometimes they can’t help winning.”

Workington: Wells 10, Bach 7, Robson 6, Campton 6, Lambert 6, Howarth 4, Jacobs 1.

Monarchs: Masters 12, Cook 9, Sedgmen 8, Fricke 8, Worrall 8, Fox 5, Sneddon 0.