Speedway: Summit-seeking Monarchs at the double

Monarchs' Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen lead round Redcar's Carl Wilkinson and Hugh Skidmore. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Monarchs' Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen lead round Redcar's Carl Wilkinson and Hugh Skidmore. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs are poised to reclaim leadership of the Premier League speedway table after scooping up all six points against Redcar Bears and Glasgow Tigers in last night’s double header at Armadale.

Monarchs easily put the squeeze on the Bears, running out 59-37 winners, before crushing Tigers 65-29, ending any hopes the Ashfield side had of reaching the end of season play-offs.

A further three home points against Newcastle Diamonds tonight would leave Monarchs with the luxury of requiring just a point from their trip to Glasgow tomorrow night to displace Somerset Rebels, who leapt to the top of the table last month after the Capital side were kept out of action due to a trio of rain-offs.

Redcar boast a decent record round Armadale and turned Monarchs over last season. However, the prospect of them pulling the rug from under the hosts’ feet on this occasion never looked likely.

Monarchs got off to a flying start by grabbing 5-1 successes from the first three heats and their stranglehold on proceedings was never seriously challenged. Monarchs surged into a 35-16 lead at the half-way stage and that was really it for Redcar, who lacked strength in depth. Their top two performers were Richard Lawson and former Monarch Aaron Summers, both of whom won their tactical outings in heats five and ninerespectively.

But even those victories barely created a ripple, as Monarchs kept their foot firmly on the gas in the second half. Summers was certainly good value and won his last three outings on the bounce and was Redcar’s top scorer with 15 points. Lawson had his best match at Armadale and racked up a handy 12-point score.

Given the one-sided nature of the contest, no Monarchs rider achieved any maximums. Craig Cook and Sam Masters had the opportunity, but blew it when they lost to Summers and Lawson in an unlucky heat 13.

But even this last-gasp 5-1 for Redcar proved too little too late. By the time Glasgow Tigers came to the tapes for the second clash, the momentum was very much with Monarchs, yet strangely despite the larger margin of victory, the meeting provided some very tasty racing indeed, notably a very bruising battle between Sam Masters and Kevin Wolbert in heat seven, which Masters won after a real ding-dong battle.

Monarchs’ man of the evening was probably Justin Sedgmen, who was extremely consistent and featured in most of the stand-out races. The Aussie really was flying and can feel very satisfied with his overall contribution.

The Tigers were pretty awful and were swept aside with barely a murmur. Four Monarchs riders were unbeaten and young Max Fricke was excellent as he powered his way to a full 15-point maximum.

Monarchs were on easy street and were miles in front at 41-23 after ten heats. There was never any way back for the Tigers, whose only notable challenge came from Theo Pijper and Kevin Wolbert, both ex-Monarchs.

Glasgow had to use rider replacement for the missing Rusty Harrison and this was a setback they could have done without. On the evidence of their performance, it’s hard to see how they are going to live with Monarchs at Ashfield on Sunday.

Monarchs got through all 30 heats in record time and team manager Alex Harkess was very satisfied with the manner of their twin victories.

“It was a job really well done,” he said, “but we have to make sure we pick up three points against Newcastle tonight. I think we will do it – we haven’t come this far to throw it away now. And importantly all our riders came through without injury, so they are all fit and ready to go. That is important.”

Sedgmen commented: “It was a pretty hectic night, but we all coped. We ran up a couple of big scores which we wanted to do and now we look forward to getting the one point we need at Glasgow to finish top of the table. Happy days!”

Monarchs: Sedgmen 12, Fricke 10, Masters 10, Cook 8, Fox 7, Sneddon 6, Worrall 6.

Redcar: Summers 15, Lawson 12, Wilkinson 5, Graversen 3, Skidmore 2, Lemon 0, Konopa 0.

Monarchs: Fricke 15, Cook 13, Masters 11, Sedgmen 9, Fox 7, Worrall 6, Sneddon 4.

Glasgow: Pijper 9, Wolbert 8, Lykke 5, Graversen 3, Palovaara 2, Aarnio 2.