EDINBURGH MONARCHS were ambushed by Berwick Bandits in the first leg of their Cock O’ the North speedway challenge match at Shielfield Park on Saturday despite leading by two points after eight races.
The home side eventually ran out comfortable 50-39 winners and will defend this lead in the deciding leg at Armadale in July.
For Monarchs it all started to go wrong in the second half, notably in the ninth heat when Craig Cook fell off and was excluded from the rerun. Teammate Micky Dyer then tumbled off and although he remounted he couldn’t get his bike to start. This handed the Bandits a gift 5-0 advantage putting them into the lead 28-25.
However a 4-2 from skipper Matthew Wethers and Dutchman Theo Pijper, who continues to impress, in heat ten allowed Monarchs to close the gap to just a single point and victory seemed a possibility.
But No. 1 Andrew Tully slithered off in heat 13 and this proved costly as the Bandits cashed in with a 5-1 success to open up an eight point advantage.
Monarchs’ rash of fallers continued in the penultimate race when reserve Charles Wright came to grief and although Wethers won the rerun it came too late as their hosts chalked up the half ton with a decisive 5-1 from guest David Howe and Lee Complin in the heat 15 finale. Howe and Complin were Berwick’s top performers with 13 and 14 respectively.
Monarchs scored solidly but once again couldn’t find enough race winners and this could be their Achilles heel away from home when the league programme begins.
Berwick: Complin 14, Howe 13, Alden 10, Setera 6, Edberg 3, McKinna 2, Bellego 2.
Monarchs: Pijper 8, Wethers 8, Cook 6, Tully 5, Sneddon 5, Wright 4, Dyer 3.