Two wins out of two for Edinburgh Monarchs who struck late in their Championship match with Berwick Bandits at Shielfield Park to claim three match points.
The stunning 48-42 triumph piles the pressure on Berwick’s new owners who were still smarting from their hammering at Sheffield Tigers on Thursday.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess was purring like a cat with the cream over the result and said: “It was a bit disappointing not to take all four points, but it was our first away victory of the season and we have made the perfect start to our campaign.”
There was barely a cigarette paper between the sides early on and the scores were tied 24-24 after eight heats.
But Monarchs made the decisive move in heat 12 when Mark and Erik Riss grabbed a big 5-1 advantage to put them 39-33 in front. And when Monarchs’ top duo Skipper Sam Masters and Ricky Wells repeated the trick in the very next race this pushed Monarchs ten points ahead and the winning post was in sight.
The Bandits won a consolation 5-1 of their own in heat 14 but Monarchs easily shared the last race 3-3 to put the result beyond doubt.
Said Harkess: “We had looked at the programme beforehand and saw a batch of races late on that we knew were capable of wining.”
And young second string rider Josh Pickering was right in the thick of things and pulled off two race wins – one against Berwick captain Kevin Doolan – on a track he had not seen before.
Pickering, as he showed in victory against Scunthorpe at Armadale on Friday, is as fearless as they come. Said Harkess: “Every day he looks the part. For someone who has never seen Berwick before and to win two races, it’s just tremendous, we have no worries about him.”
The same cannot be said of Max Clegg, who scored one point, and reserve Mitchell Davy who picked up two. Harkess said: “With Mitchell he is a reserve and we are not asking him to win loads of races but they are both struggling and we have to work hard to get them both going.
“In Max’s case it is very frustrating to see him struggling. I’m being diplomatic, that’s all I’ll say.
“It’s not as if he hasn’t had any matches before riding for us, he’s had quite a few outings for Wolverhampton in the Premiership.
“But this season with no League Cup we are straight into the league programme with no time to get things right. If we had all seven of our team riding like they would be scoring 80 points every week.”
Wells was Monarchs’ top scorer with 14 points from his five rides and dropped his only point to Berwick No.1 Lewis Bridger in the final race. Masters weighed in with ten points.
Harkess added: “They rode very well again and they look after themselves and it gives you such an advantage to have two big scorers at the helm of the side. And lets’s not forget Erik, he has settled into the third heat leader role without much trouble at all.”
The race of the night came in heat 10 when both Riss brothers made lightning starts from the tapes until Bridger picked them off for a handsome victory.
Berwick: Bridger 11, Gappmaier 8, Vissing 8, Doolan 7, Berge 5, Carr 2, Ruddick 1.
Monarchs: Wells 14, Masters 10, E Riss 8, Pickering 7, M Riss 6, Davey 2, Clegg 1.