Eastbourne Eagles landed at Armadale Stadium last night, but Edinburgh Monarchs swooped to shoot them down 51-27 to collect three valuable Championship League points to keep their play-off aspirations alive, but only just. The meeting was abandoned after heat 13 due to heavy rain, but the result stands.
In reality, unless Monarchs can win on the road – and there has been little evidence of their ability to do so all season – they are doomed to miss out on a top-four finish for the second year in a row.
This is a telling indictment on how things have gone pear-shaped with regards to team building in 2019. The Monarchs management have simply lost their magic touch this season.
Eastbourne, who have just as woeful an away record as Monarchs, have failed to pick up a single away point on their travels this term and never looked likely to pull off a major shock against their hosts, but Nick Morris got the jump on Sam Masters,w ho has been nigh invincible since returning to Monarchs, and won the first heat convincingly for the Eagles for a 3-3 share of the spoils.
Monarchs welcomed back Cameron Heeps from injury and the Aussie won heat four in fine style and with partner William Lawson in third spot, this 4-2 put Monarchs six points ahead, 15-9, and looking comfortable.
At the halfway stage Monarchs led comfortably 30-18, James Sarjeant winning his first race for Monarchs in the eighth race after Lawson was excluded for unfair riding after Alfie Bowtell fell off Lawson said: “The track was difficult and I just couldn’t turn my bike.”
A 5-1 from Ricky Wells and Josh Pickering – their third maximum verdict of the night in heat nine – extended Monarchs lead to 16 points after nine heats.
Monarchs easily clinched the meeting with a further 5-1 from Heeps and Masters in heat 13. Heeps was in excellent form despite this being his first match back after injury and he was unbeaten in four rides.
Masters, who won two races after finishing third in his first ride, said: “The circuit was a bit different because of all the rain that had fallen earlier in the week, but I managed two wins and I was happy and more importantly the team won the match and that’s what counts.”
Monarchs: Heeps 12, Pickering 9, Masters 9, Wells 8, Sarjeant 7, Lawson 5, Coles 1.
Eastbourne: Morris 8, Lawson 6, Newman 4, Bowtell 4, Edwards 2, Kerr 2, Wood 1.