Edinburgh Monarchs keep their Shield Campaign hopes alive – but only just
Edinburgh Monarchs stunned Berwick Bandits at Armadale tonight to keep alive their Championship Shield qualifying hopes – but only just.
Monarchs narrowly defeated Berwick 45-44 but the Bandits gained a losing match point meaning tonight’s return fixture at Shielfield Park is another must-win task for the Monarchs.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “It was a pretty unconvincing home win for us, but we always knew we would have to try and beat Berwick away from home to have any chance of going through, and that has not changed.”
Monarchs started off with a share of the spoils in the first race, Wells taking the chequered flag, but teammate Justin Sedgmen had to start from 15 metres back after breaking the tapes and couldn’t make up any ground on Bandits duo Aaron Summers and Kevin Doolan.
Monarchs had a disaster in the third heat when Josh Pickering and Joel Andersson sped away in a 5-1 position only for Doolan to overhaul them both for a splendid 3-3 for Berwick who were already looking dangerous.
Monarchs and Berwick traded 4-2s in heats four and five which maintained the Bandits’ overall lead by one point, 15-14. Monarchs at this stage could not get a foothold in the match at all.
But then they crept back in front by a single point when Wells and Sedgmen grabbed a 4-2 against Josh Bates and Leon Flint in the sixth race. However, it was too close for comfort for the home side who looked less then convincing.
Monarchs then grabbed a 4-2 in heat seven when Cameron Heeps defeated Coty Garcia and, with William Lawson grabbing the vital third place, Monarchs now led 22-19.
But Bandits hit back with another 4-2 in the next race to trail by one point again and Monarchs were still under the cosh to a degree.
Monarchs then snatched the first 5-1 advantage of the meeting in heat ten with Wells and Sedgmen outpacing Bandits pair Doolan and Danny Gappmaier. Monarchs now led by seven points, 33-26.
But another 4-2 by the Bandits cut Monarchs’ lead to five points after heat 11.
However, Pickering won a thriller in heat 12 for a 4-2 success which pushed Monarchs seven points ahead, 39-32. This was Pickering’s second win on the line having beaten Bates three races earlier.
Monarchs headed into heat 15 just one point ahead 42-41, and Wells was ruled to have touched the tapes and had to start off 15 metres. Summers won it for Bandits but crucially teammate Bates fell off allowing Wells and Heeps to grab a 3-3, and match victory.
Monarchs: Wells 11, Heeps, 11, Pickering 10, Sedgmen 5, Lawson 4, Andersson 3, Ruddick 1.
Berwick: Garcia 13, Summers 12, Bates 11, Doolan 8, Gappmaier 0, Flint 0.