Sam Masters could be Monarchs’ ace in treble bid

Fearless: Sam Masters, left, has been first to many chequered flags this season and has been outscoring Craig Cook. Masters is pictured below

Fearless: Sam Masters, left, has been first to many chequered flags this season and has been outscoring Craig Cook. Masters is pictured below

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Sam Masters is revelling in his fine form as rampant Edinburgh Monarchs step up their bid for the treble.

Under the latest set of green sheet averages, the big Aussie sits on 8.22 points, reflecting a long spell of consistent scoring in which he has often overshadowed talisman Craig Cook.

His excellent form this season has helped Monarchs reach both the League Cup final and the Grand Final, as well as the semi-final of the Premier League Knockout Cup.

Ahead of the first leg of the Knockout Cup semi-final against Ipswich Witches at home tonight, Masters, pictured below, insisted he is fully focused on helping Monarchs claim as many honours as possible and insists that any success will have been a team effort.

He said: “I have been happy with my recent form. Ever since I won the Scottish Open, and the Pairs title, with Max (Fricke) I have found a new confidence, and I’m also having a lot of fun with my mechanic Robbie. I never like to get too serious about things otherwise I screw up, so I’m just going to keep doing what I have been doing and see where it goes.

“I have a lot of respect for Craig Cook because he helps me out quite a lot and also assists me in getting extra points as well. I’m not out to beat anybody else in the team, it’s a squad effort involving everybody and that has been the case since the season started.”

Monarchs have the opportunity of lifting a fourth championship crown since moving to the Lothian Arena in 1997. They booked their play-off Grand Final spot by defeating Workington Comets 50-40 last weekend, grabbing all four points when one would have sufficed. Masters said: “It was a good meeting for us all, everybody chipped in, even Aaron (Fox), and obviously Derek (Sneddon) was injured (wrist) but rode on.

“We did what we needed to do and had a bit of fun as well and are now looking forward to the final later this month.

“It’s unclear yet who we will get from the other group, it might be Somerset or Ipswich, possibly Scunthorpe. But no matter who it is, I think we can beat them home and away.

“We did not lose a match in our group which was a great feeling, whatever is meant to happen will happen, you can’t change anything. The final will be amazingly hard, but we will treat it as just another meeting and go out and do our best.”

The visit of Newcastle might put Monarchs on edge after the Tynesiders went down by just seven points in their league encounter at the Lothian Arena last month after losing their main man Stuart Robson when he crashed out in his first ride.

“Newcastle did push us pretty close,” conceded Masters. “But the track was pretty slick following the double-header we had the previous night. It did not suit us, because it wasn’t a normal surface.

“However, Newcastle have not beaten us this year and hopefully our track will have a bit of dirt put down. Newcastle have some good riders in their team so we know it won’t be easy.”

The Diamonds booked their spot in the semi-final after thrashing Glasgow Tigers 108-72 on aggregate in the quarter-final on Sunday. Team manager George English said: “We were confident of getting through but the manner and size of our win even took us by surprise. It sets up nicely for our clashes against the Monarchs.”

Monarchs’ bid to land a silverware hat-trick continues on Sunday when they travel to Peterborough Panthers for the first leg of the League Cup Final. Peterborough were the first side to topple Monarchs this year, but will be without three of their own team which could swing things in Monarchs’ favour.

Masters said: “It’s not exactly my favourite track although I haven’t had any bad meetings there in the past. Peterborough had an awesome team at the start of the year, but not any more, and that should help us; they won’t be as strong as they were. But we have to give them total respect, they will be very much up for it like ourselves.

“It’s fantastic that the season is building up to such a great climax for us and it would be nice to think we’ll get a few trophies at the end of it. We have done so well this year, but we are riding with targets on our back because everybody wants to shoot us down, we’ll see what happens.”

Peterborough travel to Armadale for the deciding leg next Friday.