Stunning win for Edinburgh Monarchs at Somerset

Monarchs' Craig Cook speeds away from Somerset's Josh Grajczonek and Paul Starke. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Monarchs' Craig Cook speeds away from Somerset's Josh Grajczonek and Paul Starke. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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EDINBURGH MONARCHS made it three Premier League away wins on the bounce when they toppled Somerset Rebels 51-42 in last night’s Sky Sports live match at the Oaktree Arena.

Monarchs, who proved they had the speedway X-Factor in front of the cameras, seized all four match points again and now lead arch rivals Glasgow Tigers by five points at the top of the championship table.

It was a big blow for Somerset, who have now lost two of their last three home fixtures. Previously to that, they hadn’t lost in front of their own fans since 2013.

On a track that looked in great condition, Monarchs potent opening pairing of skipper Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen gave the Capital side exactly the start they wished for when they sped away for a 5-1 in the first race against Brady Kurtz and Leigh Lanham. Cook and Sedgmen are scoring points for fun at the moment and are fast turning out to be a partnership to be envied and feared.

Monarchs’ breezy beginning continued in the third race when young German Erik Riss held off a late charge by Charles Wright to take the chequered flag, and with Kevin Wolbert, who was passed by Wright on the second lap, taking third place, Monarchs gained an excellent 4-2 to lead 12-6 at this early stage.

And it got even better for Monarchs when Cook and Sedgmen pulled out a 4-2 against Wright and Richie Worrall two heats later to open up a useful eight-point advantage at 19-11. This was Cook’s third victory of the match so far and his second in succession having defeated Rebels ace Josh Grajczonek in heat four.

The Rebels, who hadn’t won a heat yet, were struggling to make any impression against their Scottish visitors and with the next three races all shared 3-3, Monarchs maintained their eight-point cushion as they entered the second half. Monarchs were, of course, quite content to settle for a share of the race spoils as they were very much in the driving seat.

Sedgmen then won two races on the bounce after defeating Rebels reserve Paul Stake and Wright in heat nine and still the home side searched in vain for a chink in Monarchs’ armour.

Monarchs then stretched their advantage to ten points when Riss snatched his second victory of the night, beating Kurtz in heat ten and with Wolbert once more claiming a third-place point, this 4-2 put Monarchs 35-25 ahead as their masterclass in gating was paying handsome dividends.

And while Grajczonek lowered Cook and Sedgmen’s colours in the eleventh race, Monarchs were happy to tuck in behind the Rebels star to consolidate their superiority.

The Rebels finally broke their duck in heat 12 when Wright was handed a tactical ride and doubled his points by beating Wolbert. Wright’s partner, the useful Starke, claimed third spot, giving the Rebels a big 7-2 advantage which cut Monarchs lead down to just five points 40-35, and a grandstand finish in prospect. Or so everybody thought. But Riss sensationally won his third race of the meeting in heat 13 and with Cook following the youngster home, this 5-1 clinched the match points for Monarchs, who led 46-35 and could not be overhauled as they closed the page on another Capital speedway tale of the unexpected.

But Monarchs still hunted for points and Riss, who was the undoubted star of the show despite this being his first visit to Somerset, made it four wins for himself by beating Starke and Worrall in the penultimate race. Riss scored 14 points from his six starts and despite finishing last in his final ride, the only other time he was headed was by Grajczonek in heat seven.

It was a fantastic effort by Riss, who said: “The track suited my style and I got on the dirt on the outside and turned the gas full on and let the bike run.”

Cook who won the heat 15 finale, romped to a paid 17 total and said: “To come here and take four points is awesome.”

Somerset: Wright 12, Starke 9, Grajczonek 8, Kurtz 7, Lanham 3, Worrall 3, Greenwood 0.

Monarchs: Cook 15, Riss 14, Sedgmen 11, Wolbert 8, Clegg 2, Branford 1.