Edinburgh Monarchs thwarted Berwick Bandits’ hopes of a second speedway victory at Armadale this season by defeating the Border outfit 50-40 in last night’s Premier League encounter at the Lothian Arena.
Monarchs’ success ended Bandits’ recent run of good form in which they have picked up five wins and a draw in their last seven matches. But they still gave Monarchs a couple of real scares and never allowed their hosts to fully relax.
Despite a couple of heavy downpours in the afternoon Monarchs unbelievably had to water the track during the meeting with the surface turning slick, even dusty, which made gating more important than normal.
Monarchs skipper Sam Masters said: “We were all a bit thrown with what bike set-up to use because of the conditions and the same was true for the Berwick boys as well. It meant there wasn’t a lot of passing, however there wasn’t a lot that could be done about it; everybody just had to get on with it and do their best.”
Monarchs signalled their intentions from the start when Masters and Mark Riss grabbed a confident 5-1 win over Theo Pijper and Bandits captain Kevin Doolan. And it got better for Monarchs in the very next race when Dan Bewley pulled off an excellent win against Berwick guest rider Simon Nielsen, and with Max Clegg claiming third place, Monarchs bagged a fine 4-2 to move six points clear, 9-3, with the Bandits at this early stage looking a bit rattled.
The next two races were shared before Monarchs picked up another 4-2 courtesy of Ryan Fisher and Erik Riss in heat five which pushed Monarchs further ahead by eight points, 19-11.
Fisher, who was beaten just once by the opposition in his five rides, said: “The track got very slick but I was happy with how I rode and pleased with how my engines responded. I just hope I can keep this form going now.”
The Bandits hit back in the sixth race with a 4-2 when Thomas Jorgensen easily outpaced Masters with Neilsen grabbing third spot to reduce Monarchs’ lead to six points.
The track was proving a great leveller and this was underlined in heat seven when Pijper and Matthew Wethers, two ex-Monarchs, sped to a big 5-1 advantage over Kevin Wolbert and Max Clegg and now Berwick’s arrears were down to just two points in the space of two races.
Monarchs thankfully stopped Berwick’s surge in heat eight when Mark Riss won a splendid tussle against Doolan, and partner Bewley claimed third earning Monarchs a welcome 4-2 advantage to lead by four points, 26-22. Riss said: “I felt very good about that win and I’m sure there will be more to come from me.”
Berwicks’ mini comeback saw Monarchs rise from their slumbers and a 5-1 from Erik Riss and Fisher in the ninth race restored Monarchs’ eight-point lead – just in time.
And that’s the way it stayed when Masters won heat 10 from Pijper and Wethers. Wolbert won his first race of the night in heat 11, after two third places in his previous outings, and this did much to settle Monarchs down in the second half – except Berwick grabbed a 4-2 in the very next race to set the home nerves jangling once more.
However, a 5-1 from Wolbert and Masters in the 13th heat calmed matters once again for Monarchs who had the winning post in their sights now.
And with the final two heats shared Monarchs saw off the Bandits who will have been disappointed that No.1 Doolan failed to win a race.
Monarchs: Masters 13, Fisher 11, Wolbert 8, Bewley 6, E Riss 6, M Riss 5, Clegg 1.
Berwick: Wethers 10, Jorgensen 10, Pijper 8, Nielsen 7, Doolan 5, Carr 0.