Armadale Stadium was so awash with guest riders last night it’s a miracle Trading Standard officers weren’t on the scene investigating claims of fake speedway teams!
While Edinburgh Monarchs’ missing quartet were known to all, Sheffield Tigers dropped a bombshell 24 hours before the Premier League clash revealing they were using two guests themselves after No.1 Simon Stead and Frenchman Dimitri Berge were injured in their home clash against Peterborough on Thursday night. And with both teams also operating the rider-replacement facility it was a case of spot the genuine Monarch and genuine Tiger. And that set the scene for a match that could have gone either way despite Sheffield normally struggling to cope with the tights bends of the Lothian Arena. This was far from normal however.
In the end though, it was Monarchs who prevailed quite comfortably winning 56-36, lifting them into fifth place in the league.
Monarchs chief guest Steve Worrall got the side off to a bright start by winning the opening race and a 4-2 from reserves Max Clegg and Dan Bewley in the next heat gave Monarchs a slender 7-5 advantage which they extended in the fourth race when Bewley brilliantly took the chequered flag, skipper Kevin Wolbert shepherding his young team-mate home for a 15-9 lead.
This gap was maintained in heat six which was shared 3-3, Ricky Wells winning the race for Sheffield.
Bewley, who was trapping like a dream, won his second race on the spin in heat six and with Steve Worrall keeping the Tigers at bay, this second 5-1 advantage giving the home side a very handy 23-13 lead.
Richie Worrall, guesting for Sheffield, took a tactical outing in heat seven but was trumped by Clegg who flashed to victory in great style earning Monarchs a share of the spoils.
Bewley, meanwhile, was turning the match in to a personal one-man show when he won his third race in four starts in heat eight, easily outpacing former Monarch Kyle Howarth, with Michael Palm Toft claiming third place as Monarchs surged further ahead 31-19 at the halfway stage to appear comfortable.
But Sheffield claimed their first race advantage in heat ten with a 5-1 from Richie Worrall and Josh Bates cutting the lead to eight points.
Wolbert won his first race for Monarchs in heat 11 and with Bewley finishing third this 4-2 restored the te- point lead.
Monarchs’ tail-enders were on fire with Clegg storming to victory in heat 12 and with guest partner Palm Toft following him home, this further 5-1 advantage drew the fire from the Tigers who now trailed 44-30.
Wolbert won the race of the night in the next heat storming from third to first to pip Howarth on the line to prevent the Tigers clawing back some of their deficit.
And Monarchs had the match points in the bag with one heat remaining after Ulrich Ostergaard and Clegg grabbed a 4-2 to push the home side over the half century in a meeting that produced some tasty racing in some welcome sunshine.
Monarchs finished in style in heat 15 with another 5-1 this time from Wolbert and Steve Worrall beating his brother Richie for second place.
But it was Monarchs’ reserve pairing Bewley and Clegg who were standout performers on the night.
Clegg who scored 11 points said: “I was very happy with my performance and we took all three match points which was great.”
Bewley also stormed to an 11-point haul, his biggest score since joining Monarchs, and he said: “Max and I won six races between us which was fantastic and I was very happy with how I rode, I made some good starts and that made a huge difference.”
Steve Worrall, who stood in for Sam Masters, commented: “It was fantastic to be back at Edinburgh and, as always, the track was beautifully prepared.”
Monarchs: Wolbert 12, Bewley 11, Clegg 11, Palm Toft 8, S Worrall 7, Ostergaard 7.
Sheffield: R Worrall 13, Howarth 9, Wells 8, Bates 4, Sissis 2, Greaves 0.