Some time soon Edinburgh Monarchs will have to circle the wagons to protect their top four speedway play-off spot.
Their rivals, notably Glasgow Tigers and Workington Comets, have oodles of matches in hand and could muscle Monarchs out of contention unless they start winning more away ties.
But for now Monarchs are keeping their predators at bay thanks to this comfortable Championship victory tonight at Armadale, their third win over the lowly Scorpions this season.
Theo Pijper’s return to Monarchs as an injury replacement for Mark Riss at Redcar Bears on Thursday was disappointing and not just for Pijper himself who only scored one point, but he looked far more lively in the opening heat here when he combined with skipper Sam Masters for an opening 5-1 over Scorpions duo Michael Palm Toft and Tero Aarnio.
And Monarchs rammed in another maximum advantage in the heat two reserves race when Josh Pickering and Mitchell Davey easily overcame Carl Wilkinson and guest Ryan MacDonald to storm into an early lead 10-2.
Scunthorpe’s Ryan Douglas came down on his own in the third race and was disqualified from the rerun with Monarchs in another 5-1 position. Monarchs still collected a 4-2 at the second time of asking, courtesy of Erik Riss and Max Clegg, to increase their lead to 14-4 and already the Scorpions looked like a side who were treading through a vat of treacle.
Another Monarchs 4-2 followed when Ricky Wells and Davey came up trumps. Monarchs were already on easy street leading 18-6.
Another brace of 4-2s followed for Monarchs who headed to the halfway point leading 26-10, and one had to hope the Scorpions would land a blow on their hosts otherwise the match was in danger of turning into a near whitewash.
Finally Scunthorpe did exactly that when Lewis Kerr and Douglas grabbed a 4-2 in the seventh race to reduce their arrears to 14 points, it was their first overdue heat win of the meeting.
Scunthorpe reserve Wilkinson won heat eight heading home Pijper and Davey for a share of the spoils but Monarchs still held the upper hand.
But soon Monarchs were on the prowl again and Riss won his third outing of the night in heat nine and Clegg followed him home for a 5-1 to increase their lead to 36-18.
Masters easily won heat ten for a share of the spoils beating Kerr and Douglas and with Monarchs now ahead 39-21 they had virtually secured the match points at this stage.
Wilkinson and Palm Toft extracted Scunthorpe’s second heat advantage of the meeting in heat 11 and their 4-2 verdict made no difference to the overall score but no-one begrudged Scunthorpe their small degree of success.
The referee then went down to the centre green as some of the riders were complaining about the sun in their eyes and they couldn’t see properly!
Kerr was then handed a tactical ride in heat 12 as Scunthorpe attempted a damage-limitation exercise. And they took a 5-3 advantage but still couldn’t stop Riss recording his fourth race win to keep alive his maximum hopes, which were ruined when he came off on the fourth bend on lap one in the last race and was disqualified. And Masters’ maximum dream ended in heat 13 when he finished third behind race winner Wells and this 4-2 increased Monarchs lead to 48-32. Game over.
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell said: “It was terrible, a poor meeting and poor opposition. But I was glad to get all three points to go further ahead at the top of the league.”
Monarchs: Masters 12, Riss 12, Wells 10, Clegg 6, Pijper 5, Davey 4, Pickering 3.
Scunthorpe: Kerr 12, Wilkinson 11, Palm Toft 9, Auty 5, Douglas 3, Aarnio 0, MacDonald 0.