Edinburgh MONARCHS pulled off their third speedway victory at Ashfield this season when they beat Glasgow Tigers 52-38 yesterday to claim the Spring Trophy in convincing style.
Leading by 28 points from the first leg, only a catastrophic use of the self-destruct button would have denied the Capital side their deserved glory and the wide margin of their aggregate triumph (111-69) simply underlines the huge gap in class that currently exists between Scotland’s oldest cinder-track rivals.
Monarchs’ captain Derek Sneddon, though, was one of the outstanding performers on the day with three victories, and he said: “It wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests. Six of us all won races and that’s a good thing because we have some very tough matches coming up.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Claus Vissing’s brave decision to ride following his horrendous crash with Sheffield’s Robert Branford at Armadale on Friday, which saw the pair plunge through the safety boards on the first turn and into the pits parking area.
Vissing escaped with minor bruising and said: “Even although my neck and head were sore, I woke up yesterday and felt fine about riding. I scored seven points and managed two wins, which I was pretty pleased about. My only problem came in heat 13 when my seat bracket broke and I had to retire from the race.”
Monarchs inflicted real damage on the Tigers in the fourth and fifth heats, grabbing 5-1 advantages in them both to maintain a six-point lead which they held on to until the latter part of the meeting. The only controversy to rear its head came in the fifth race which had to be rerun no less than three times due to the capricious nature of referee Jim McGregor. At the first time of asking Monarchs No. 1 Craig Cook was warned for jumping at the tapes before then being excluded for moving, which saw him having to start from 15 metres back.
His team-mate Max Fricke was then disqualified under the two-minute rule. Sneddon came in to replace Fricke and followed Cook all the way home to the chequered flag when the race was eventually completed.
“I definitely did not move,” said Cook, “and Joe Screen, who wasn’t even in the race, agreed with me, but the referee clearly thought otherwise.”
Cook was Monarchs’ top scorer with 13 points, which included a trio of wins, and dropped his only point when he was beaten by James Grieves in the 11th heat. Even the evergreen Tigers No. 1 Screen had to give way three times to the Premier League’s best rider.
Monarchs under-fire tail-ender Mitchell Davey, a former Glasgow rider, may have just turned the corner after he engineered a creditable second place in heat six against Screen and Dakota North. That effort may just give Davey the lift in confidence he desperately needs right now.
It proved a slightly irksome afternoon for Fricke, who was annoyed at himself for losing third place in the first race, and probably wasn’t happy at being thrown out of heat five either. He vented his frustration on fellow countryman Joey Ringwood with a brilliant ride from the back in heat eight. Fricke finished with something of a flourish, gaining third place in heat 11 despite losing his steel shoe. Monarchs clinched the actual meeting with one race to go when Jozsef Tabaka and Sneddon defeated Ringwood and Anders Thomsen.
Monarchs’ stand-in team manager Mike Hunter said: “Even although we were in control, things can always go wrong, so it was important that we kept the pressure on. We were not happy about the heat five situation, but we put that to one side and got on with the job. We provided 11 race winners overall and that was the foundation for our victory.”
Tigers: Screen 11, Bager 7,Ringwood 7, Grieves 4, North 4, Jacobs 3, Thomsen 2.
Monarchs: Cook 13, Sneddon 11, Pijper 9, Vissing 7 Tabaka 6, Fricke 4, Davey 2