Edinburgh Monarchs are top of the table and feeling top of the world.
The Capital speedway outfit overhauled leaders Somerset Rebels after a sparkling 54-36 win at Glasgow Tigers yesterday, which maintained their unbeaten record against their Ashfield rivals this season.
Monarchs’ victory was a comfortable one, in stark contrast to the home scare they were given by Newcastle Diamonds 24 hours earlier. Although the Diamonds lost the services of Stuart Robson, who crashed in his first race, Monarchs did not fully capitalise on that misfortune and looked jaded as they stumbled over the winning line for a narrow 48-41 triumph, which probably would have eluded them had Robson not come to grief just 50 yards after the tapes rose.
The loss also ended Newcastle’s lingering hopes of sneaking into the play-offs by finishing in sixth position.
But if Monarchs were spooked at coming so close to losing for the first time at the Lothian Arena in 2014, they showed no signs of nerves against Tigers.
Monarchs got off to the ideal start when Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen grabbed a 4-2 in the opening heat and this in effect laid the foundations for a procession of Monarchs’ heat advantages, which left the toothless Tigers totally floored and some big questions needing answered before the onset of next season.
Cook was Monarchs’ top scorer with 13 points and was unbeaten by the opposition.
Monarchs led 27-33 after ten heats before winning four of the last five races to underline their superiority.
Glasgow fans were less than pleased with the performance of their No 3 Kevin Wolbert, who looked disinterested at times and trailed in last when out for a tactical outing in heat 12, which was basically a last throw of the dice for the Tigers to close the gap The German finished on four points overall and his form for the Tigers this season has veered between acceptable and dreadful, and it’s safe to assume that the end of the season cannot come quickly enough for him.
Apart from reserve Aaron Fox, who failed to score – and one hopes this is not the start of a trend away from home for the Monarchs’ reserve with the business end of the campaign imminent – the rest of the scoring among his team-mates was pretty solid.
Aussie star Sam Masters picked up nine points from his four starts and won his opening race against Tigers’ top scorer Theo Pijper in heat four. Masters admitted the team got the tonic they needed after the close shave against Newcastle and said: “Newcastle really pushed us all the way and we knew we had to go in with our heads up at Glasgow.
“We need to keep winning, now that we are coming into the crucial part of the season.
“Beating Glasgow so convincingly has given our confidence a real boost. I don’t know what happened at home to Newcastle, our track had done three meetings in two days and there was little dirt on the surface which made it too slick for our liking. And the lines we usually ride did not work for us. No one was making starts. But Newcastle are a good side and it was no bad thing that they pushed us so close.”
We are all looking forward to the play-off matches which start this week, they will be hard, but we will do what we’ve doing all season.
“We are top of the league today for a reason, and if we are firing on all cylinders I don’t think anyone will beat us.
“We want to win a trophy and to make the most of it, because we won’t have the same team next season – it doesn’t work like that. So we’ll continue to have fun until then.”
Glasgow:- Pijper 14, Lykke 8, Campton 5, Wolbert 4, Aarnio 3, Palovaara 2.
Monarchs:- Cook 13, Fricke 10, Masters 9, Sedgmen 9, Sneddon 7, Worrall 6, Fox 0.
• Monarchs will face Berwick Bandits and Workington Comets in their play-off group section, which was decided last night. Somerset Rebels, Ipswich Witches, and Scunthorpe Scorpions form the other group, writes DAVID KINVIG.
Monarchs were given first pick of opponents after finishing top of the league by beating Glasgow Tigers at Ashfield yesterday.
But Monarchs will be mindful over their trip to Berwick having lost 48-41 on their last visit to Shielfield Park in August in a league clash. However, Monarchs did beat the Bandits round their own circuit in a League Cup fixture at the start of the season.
Clearly Monarchs have targeted Workington as their best chance of success on the road. Monarchs promoter John Campbell said: “Workington are significantly the weakest team in the top six and were an obvious first choice for us.” Monarchs will announce their first group match opponents in due course for Friday’s opening fixture at Armadale.