Edinburgh Monarchs took the sparkle out of Newcastle Diamonds at Armadale last night to win their first home Premier League match of the season in dramatic fashion.
Trailing by two points with one race remaining, Monarchs skipper Sam Masters and top scorer Kevin Wolbert pulled off a huge 5-1 win in heat 15 to squeeze home 46-44 leaving the Diamonds slightly stunned but the home fans delirious.
Masters said: “I was not happy with my own efforts because I lost an engine in transit, but as a team we pulled it out of the bag.”
Monarchs had an early let off in the very first heat when Newcastle duo Robert Lambert and Victor Palovaara got themselves into a 5-1 position on the first lap until Lambert’s bike gave out allowing Monarchs to rescue a 3-3.
And with heat two going the same way the scores were level 6-6 but Newcastle were looking dangerous. However, Monarchs grabbed their first advantage in heat three with a 4-2 from Wolbert and Jye Etheridge, the latter under pressure to do better, and his precious third-place point should have given the Australian cause for optimism, alas he finished last in his next outing.
Then Monarchs set Armadale alight in the next heat when young reserve Dan Bewley took the chequered flag in fantastic style and, with partner Ryan Fisher following him home, this unexpected 5-1 pushed Monarchs ahead 15-9.
Bewley said: “That race felt so good it was the best one I’ve had for Edinburgh so far this season. And Ryan was such a good team-mate by shepherding me all the way to the line.”
Newcastle hit back straight away in the fifth race when Lambert and Palovaara claimed the 5-1 they should have got in the opening heat and this cut their arrears to just two points, 16-14.
It was cut and thrust as it usually is against Newcastle and Monarchs nosed four points in front with a 4-2 from Masters and Erik Riss in the sixth heat after Newcastle’s guest rider Theo Pijper retired with engine trouble.
Pijper was standing in for the absent Steve Worrall and Monarchs must have been glad Worrall was on Elite League duty for Belle Vue as Pijper had collected just one point from two rides at this stage, something you could not have imagined Worrall doing.
With the next two races shared, Monarchs maintained their slender four-point lead at the start of the second half with the match points still very much up for grabs.
Masters and Riss, who did not look comfortable at times, conjured up a much needed 4-2 in heat ten giving Monarchs a six-point advantage, 33-27 and some welcome breathing space.
Palovaara and Lambert, who were proving a real thorn in Monarchs’ side, seized their second 5-1 of the match in heat 11 cutting the Diamonds arrears once more to a wafer thin two points.
A vital victory by Wolbert in heat 12 overhauling leader Matej Kus, kept Monarchs two in front with three heats on the card.
Lambert then struck a blow against Monarchs aces Masters and Fisher by winning heat 13 keeping Newcastle’s deficit still at two points.
And Monarchs were in peril in heat 14 losing a 5-1 against Lewis Rose and Ludvig Lindgren allowing the visitors to take the lead for the first time in the match, 43-41, setting up a last-heat decider.
And it was Monarchs who pulled it out of the fire in heat 15, Masters and Wolbert storming to a match wining 5-1 over Lambert and Palovaara to sneak home 46-44 against the odds.
Monarchs: Wolbert 13, Masters 10, Fisher 8, Riss 6, Bewley 5, Clegg 3, Etheridge 1.
Newcastle: Palovaara 11, Rose 10, Lambert 9, Lindgren 7, Kus 4, Pijper 3, Phillips 0.