Former Edinburgh Monarch Craig Cook keeps the pot boiling for Glasgow Tigers

Glasgow Tigers piled on the misery for Edinburgh Monarchs at Armadale tonight by claiming victory in their final Championship Shield qualifying match.

Friday, 24th May 2019, 22:25 pm
Craig Cook, second left, hurtles to the front, followed by Joel Andersson, left, James Sarjeant and Matthew Wethers. Picture: Ian Adam

The Tigers triumphed 47-43 to join group winners Berwick Bandits in the semi-finals of the competition.

Monarchs’ only crumb of comfort came in the final race when skipper Ricky Wells defeated Tigers No.1 Craig Cook to ruin his five-ride maximum hopes.

Monarchs recruited Matthew Wethers as a guest for Josh Pickering who was injured during the Championship League defeat at Birmingham Brummies on Wednesday.

Pickering has got shoulder ligament damage and could be out of action for three weeks. He said: “I’ve also got a very sore head. I’ll just be resting my shoulder for now and using ice on it. The doctors have told me it will be a one to three week recovery period. I will just take it one day at a time.

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“We haven’t got a fixture next Friday so this will help the healing process.”

The Tigers were fired up for this clash and former Monarch Cook blitzed Monarchs’ top duo Wells and Justin Sedgmen to win the opening heat with ridiculous ease, Wells finished third and for some reason he has lost much of his spark so far this term. He needs to rediscover it quickly because right now he is not a No. 1 rider. However, he did improve over the course of the match, top scoring with 15 points from six outings.

The Tigers jumped into the lead in heat three after Monarchs star Joel Andersson was stranded at the start, making life easy for race winner Claus Vissing and third-placed Rasmus Jensen, and this 4-2 put Tigers in front by 10-8.

Monarchs’ reserve Luke Ruddick, who fell during his first ride, coming down hard on the second bend, was withdrawn from the meeting injured, a blow Monarchs could have done without.

The fourth race was shared 3-3, Tigers’ Paul Starke taking the chequered flag ahead of Monarchs pair Cameron Heeps and William Lawson, to maintain Glasgow’s two-point advantage.

Cook won his second race in the fifth heat and looked utterly dominant as Monarchs duo Wethers and Andersson could not get near him.

The next race was also shared, Wells winning convincingly, but unfortunately his partner Sedgmen finished at the back beaten by Tigers reserve Connor Coles, and this cost Monarchs what should have been a 4-2 advantage.

Cook said: “So far so good, we started the match well. And I’m pleased with my two wins so far. Glasgow have a good team this year and we are all going well, fingers crossed.”

The Tigers grabbed their second 4-2 in the seventh heat with Vissing notching up his second race victory, it looked as if Tigers would take it with a 5-1 but Cameron Heeps caught Rasmus Jensen on the last bend to limit the damage, but Tigers now led 23-19.

Sedgmen and Tigers star James Sarjeant came down on the third bend in heat eight. Sarjeant tried to come underneath the Monarchs rider and their bikes got tangled in the air fence. Referee Jim McGregor disqualified Sarjeant and Andersson replaced Sedgmen in the rerun which Monarchs won with a 4-2 to cut Tigers’ lead to just two points, 25-23.

This was Monarchs’ first heat win of the meeting.

Sedgmen too, was withdrawn from the meeting injured, and Monarchs were now really up against it. Wells, however, triumphed in heat nine for a share of the spoils, Monarchs running with just one rider in the race.

And Cook won his third race of the match for the Tigers in the 11th heat to keep them narrowly in front 34-32, but it was announced Sarjeant had retired from the meeting.

The Tigers then took a critical 4-2 advantage in heat 12 to extend their lead again to four points, 38-34, Wethers losing on the final bend to Jensen.

They did likewise in the next race to open up a six-point gap.

Wellls came out as a tactical substitute in the penultimate race for Monarchs, but the resultant 3-3 for the Tigers clinched the meeting for them and their place in the Championship Shield last four.

Monarchs: Wells 15, Andersson 7, Heeps 7, Wethers 6, Lawson 6, Sedgmen 2, Ruddick 0.

Glasgow: Cook 14, Vissing 9, Starke 9, Jensen 7, Coles 3, Bickley 5, Sarjeant 0