Edinburgh Monarchs speedway boss John Campbell expects his team to win all their matches in their Premier League play-off group.
Monarchs face Workington Comets and Berwick Bandits home and away in their section, with the winners going forward to contest the Grand Final for this year’s league championship crown with both legs televised live by Sky Sports.
Monarchs open their campaign against Berwick at Armadale tomorrow with the return tie at Shielfield Park 24 hours later. Picking up an away win could be decisive but Campbell, below, said: “I think we will win all our matches, one match is no more crucial than another.”
There is no doubt that Monarchs are red-hot favourites to make a flying start tomorrow, having racked up a massive 185 points against their border visitors in their three clashes at the Lothian Arena already this year alone. “We are just getting better and better,” said Campbell. “That’s where my belief comes from. Our team is full of confidence at the moment and it doesn’t matter who we race because we will be too good for them.”
However, on Monarchs’ last visit to Berwick in August they were sluggish in the first half and although rallied later on, they couldn’t avoid a 48-41 defeat. And Berwick are only one of three sides to get the better of Monarchs in 2014.
Berwick’s secret weapon so far has been their Czech ace Matej Kus, who was riding like a superstar at reserve, but he has now moved in to the main body of the team and can no longer take a maximum of seven rides which has robbed Berwick of some of their potency. Campbell said: “It’s true that we did not make the best of starts on our last trip to Berwick, and obviously it’s better to gain a lead early in the match and hang on to it.”
The Monarchs supremo is equally adamant that Workington are unlikely to put the brakes on the Capital side’s bandwagon either. This is based on the fact that Workington have not really dominated at all in any manner and could only draw at home recently against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield Tigers. “They have done nothing away from home either,” added Campbell. “This has been the story of their season so far and you cannot turn an average team into a good team overnight.”
Defending champions Somerset Rebels, Ipswich Witches, and Scunthorpe make up the other group and Campbell thinks the outcome is less clear cut.
“It’s fair to say that Ipswich have beaten Somerset twice on aggregate this season so there has got to be a possibility of that happening again. Ipswich certainly have come on to their best form of the season in recent weeks, and if you believe Scunthorpe’s publicity, they too are a great team.
“There is no doubt that anybody going to Ipswich at the moment would be a little bit more concerned than they were a couple of months ago, especially if you had been there twice this year and been completely annihilated as happened to Somerset, you would have to be worried about that.
“It’s difficult to know if any of these teams will pick up points on the road. I suppose Somerset’s view is that they might sneak a point at Scunthorpe and Ipswich might not. That group I think will be tight.”
Monarchs enter the play-off stages in great heart. They picked up all 13 points on offer by winning their four matches at the weekend to take them back to the top of the table. They will be especially bolstered by the form of Aussie ace Justin Sedgmen. He dropped just one point in Friday’s double header against Redcar and Glasgow and was also in the thick of things in the return fixture at Glasgow as well.
He has been solid all year and also has the most bonus points to his credit, underlining just how good he has been in backing up his team-mates.
Campbell added: “There is a huge buzz in our camp right now and we cannot wait to get started in the play-off matches.”