Rampant Edinburgh Monarchs lit the blue touch paper under themselves to blast Rye House Rockets in last night’s Premier League Knockout Cup first-leg tie at Armadale.
Monarchs were in dominant mood as they grounded the Rockets 59-31 which puts them in pole position for tonight’s return leg at Hoddesdon, although nobody in the Monarchs camp will take anything for granted, but the job looks to be half done.
The Rockets, who have struggled a bit this season, simply had no answer as their hosts went on a scoring spree and yielded just two heat losses to their visitors who will have been disappointed that their No 1 star Charlie Gjedde only managed five points from his four outings, a complete turnaround from his last visit to Armadale when he scored 16 points for Newport Wasps.
Rye House had been tipped to possibly dominate the reserve battle but it didn’t happen due to a catalogue of bike troubles suffered by Jason Garrity who garnered just a single point for his efforts, his partner and skipper Luke Bowen fared better collecting seven points. After losing a 4-2 in the first race Monarchs did little wrong after that and led 32-16 after just eight races, a period which saw them post four 5-1 advantages which really knocked the stuffing out of the Rockets, who used rider replacement for the missing Ritchie Hawkins.
Monarchs were back at full strength with the return of Derek Sneddon from injury and the Falkirk-based rider, who broke his collarbone at Glasgow, had a very productive evening. After a last place in heat one, Sneddon picked up second places from his next three rides and said: “I wasn’t sure how my arm would hold out, but it was fine and it was great to be back among the action again. But it was a fantastic effort from all the boys, a great result.”
Monarchs’ top scorer was Craig Cook who dropped just one point from his five starts when he was headed by Gjedde in that opening race. “I hadn’t been feeling that well this week,” said Cook, “but everything again worked out for me and I was very happy with my performance.”
Matthew Wethers has not been in tip-top form this season, but the Aussie looked more polished and in command once again and raced to a very creditable nine-point haul which included victory over Anders Mellgren and Jason Bunyan in heat three.
The Monarchs captain admitted he thought the meeting would prove a lot tougher than it actually turned out to be.
Said Wethers: “I think everyone thought Rye House would push us a lot harder than they did. But we were the better team on the night and it was a good all round team display.”
Team-mate Andrew Tully was on a paid maximum until he fell off on the third bend in the heat 15 top scorers’ race and confessed later that he was probably trying too hard.
He said: “After two weeks without any racing I was a bit too fired up, and the thought of getting a maximum made me determined not to shut off. But once I got halfway into the corner and saw the gap I knew it wasn’t rideable, you live and learn.”
Garrity said he was disappointed that his machine gremlins depleted his side’s score, but promised: “I’ll be on a different bike tonight and I’ll do a lot better, I can’t blame anyone for my bike, it’s down to me. “It’s a big deficit we need to pull back and the scales may just be in Edinburgh’s favour.”
Monarchs will have been pleased that under-fire tail-ender Charles Wright scored five points, the Englishman unlucky not to get more when his bike packed up at the tapes in his second race.
Partner Micky Dyer also did well with four points, the Aussie winning heat two against Garrity.
Monarchs: Cook 14, Tully 11, Pijper 10, Wethers 9, Sneddon 6, Wright 5, Dyer 4.
Rye House: Frampton 7, Bowen 7, Mellgren 7, Gjedde 5, Bunyan 4, Garrity 1.