Tigers have their tails up after dethroning Monarchs

From left: Erik Riss and Max Clegg struggled against James Sarjeant and Victor Palovaara. Picture: Ron MacNeill

From left: Erik Riss and Max Clegg struggled against James Sarjeant and Victor Palovaara. Picture: Ron MacNeill

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Glasgow Tigers fans celebrated in style last night as their side smashed Edinburgh Monarchs’ unbeaten home record in a pulsating Premier League derby clash at Armadale Stadium.

The Tigers overturned Monarchs 48-42 and are now red hot favourites to record a quickfire double when the teams meet again at Ashfield tomorrow afternoon.

No-one will begrudge the Tigers their success despite the fact they have waited so long for it. They looked far more hungry than their hosts and got off to the strongest start possible when they snatched a 5-1 in the opening race courtesy of Richie Worrall and Richard Lawson who left Monarchs’ No.1 Sam Masters chasing air. This was the fourth week in a row Masters has failed to win heat one and frankly it isn’t good enough.

Worse was to follow in the second race when Victor Palovaara and James Sarjeant extracted a 4-2 against Max Clegg and Rob Branford. Six points ahead at that early stage, the Tigers were on cloud nine already.

And it took Monarchs until heat nine before they took the lead. Kevin Wolbert and Justin Sedgmen raced ahead for the team’s first 5-1 of the evening to make the score 28-26. However, it was a wafer-thin advantage that never looked like being enough. And disaster befell Monarchs in the 11th race when main man Craig Cook surprisingly yielded a 5-1 against Worrall and Lawson. That definitely was not in the script and levelled the scores 33-33 after Monarchs had edged in front 32-28 in the previous race. But the Tigers scented victory and grabbed a 4-1 in heat 12 which was then cancelled out by Monarchs in heat 13. The match was there for the taking and the visitors struck the killer blow in heat 14 when Lawson and Sarjeant put Erik Riss and Sedgmen to the sword with a pivotal 5-1 advantage.

Monarchs required a 5-1 in the last race to rescue a draw, but Lawson and Worrall outflanked Masters and Cook for a 4-2 victory which sent the Glasgow hordes into raptures.

Frankly Monarchs lost the contest before the first bend. They were like snails out of the gate. The Tigers in contrast were hungry and sharper. And on a night when Monarchs’ top four needed to be imperious they threw away points like confetti.

Predictably Monarchs got creamed at reserve with Palovaara and Sarjeant amassing 17 points between them compared to just eight which Riss scored, his partner Clegg failing to score. This fragility at the tail-end was ruthlessly exploited by the Tigers management. Also with Branford struggling at No.2, he tumbled off in the eighth race after an over ambitious move, Monarchs simply had no back-up plan and nothing left in the tank.

Glasgow second string Dimitri Berge suffered two falls which handed Monarchs gift points. And Tigers skipper Aaron Summers suffered engine failure in heat ten which aided Monarchs but not to such a degree that they were able to rescue the meeting.

Summers, a former Monarchs rider, said afterwards: “It was great to get the win, Glasgow have waited a long time for this and it felt great for the whole team.”

Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess had no quibbles with the outcome, saying: “The better team won. They dominated from the start and were stronger out of the gate and that was the big difference. We can have no complaints.”

Tigers’ big winner was Lawson who often fails to shine at Armadale. But the Englishman was speedway from the traps and piled up 14 points from his six starts which proved goldust to a Tigers squad who perhaps are now living up to their tag as pre-season title favourites.

Monarchs: Cook 12, Riss 8, Masters 8, Wolbert 7, Sedgmen 6, Branford 1, Clegg 0.

Tigers: Lawson 14, Sarjeant 9, Worrall 9, Summers 8, Palovaara 8, Berge 0.