Heat is on Monarchs to raise level for key races

Edinburgh Monarchs have a problem. They've lost three last heats in succession which has cost them four match points, something which may come back to haunt them later in the season as the battle to reach the play-offs intensifies.

Friday, 26th May 2017, 6:30 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 7:54 pm
Heat 15 at Workington, from left: Thomas Jorgensen, Sam Masters, Craig Cook, Ricky Wells. Picture: Ron MacNeill

Beginning at home to Glasgow Tigers where they surrendered a 2-4 in heat 15, they then lost 1-5s away to Newcastle Diamonds and Workington Comets.

Yet it is a failing which doesn’t concern Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess despite expressing his worry that Monarchs were throwing away needless points. He said: ”It’s amazing to think we are still top of the league when we are not firing on all cylinders. If we were struggling it would be different, but we are not.

“We’re up there at the top with loads of room for improvement and hopefully we will improve and secure our position in the league.”

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Asked to put his finger on why his side cannot seem to triumph in these deciders, Harkess replied: “In theory we should have the riders capable of doing it but it seems it’s not happening for us at the moment.

“The riders who are beating us are not of a higher average or anything like that, it’s just on the day we have not been good enough.

“Traditionally heat 15 has never been a problem for us we have always been very, very strong in that race both home and away. But I’m sure we will turn this around.”

Monarchs entertain Peterborough Panthers at Armadale tonight and Harkess is hoping they will bounce back from their 51-42 defeat at Workington, a loss he was disappointed with.

“The result was always disappointing because we left empty handed which we never set out to do.

“More so to the extent that we had five riders who won races proving when we got out of the starts we were as good as the Workington riders.

“But unfortunately we couldn’t get out of the starts early on and we allowed them to get eight points in front after just two races and it was very difficult to get back into the match after that.

“But Workington are a very solid side at home but when you have five riders winning races perhaps we should have got closer to them, it was unfortunate but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

The one positive to come out of the match was the performance of Mitchell Davey at reserve. The popular Aussie scored five points and was given extra rides to compensate for partner Max Clegg’s below par display.

Said Harkess: “Mitchell did very, very well, he was the best of our two reserves. You have got to maximise the situation in your favour, that’s why Mitchell got extra rides and he looked the part. Mitchell won heat 14 very convincingly and the Workington track was more suited to him than it was for Max who really struggled.

“Mitchell was the better reserve on the night and his display will have done his confidence no harm whatsoever.”

Clegg has dropped back down to the National League to double-up with Buxton Hitmen as their No.1. He said: “When Wolverhampton dropped me I needed to find another team spot. I’m very happy to have joined Buxton, it’s a club run by some great people and I love riding the place.

“It’s all about getting more track time which is what I need most, and obviously you can progress more when get more track time.

“Hopefully I can make some gates in the National League again which will help get my confidence back and hopefully that will help Edinburgh.”

Monarchs are without Mark Riss tonight and will use rider replacement to cover his absence.

Meanwhile, Redcar Bears have agreed to fill the June 9 blank date in Monarchs’ fixture list. The date was originally reserved for the KO Cup semi-final. Monarchs travel to Sheffield Tigers next week for the quarter-final second leg where they face a daunting task has they arrive with only four points in hand.