Misfiring Edinburgh Monarchs aiming to avoid another Cup KO

Edinburgh Monarchs’ decision to bring forward their KO Cup quarter-final second leg tie against Scunthorpe Scorpions from next month to Saturday night at Armadale (7pm) is one that looks fraught with danger given that Monarchs are yet to hit top form and are by no means dominant around their home track.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 5:58 pm
Justin Sedgmen has come in for criticism. Pic: Ron MacNeill

Edinburgh Monarchs’ decision to bring forward their KO Cup quarter-final second leg tie against Scunthorpe Scorpions from next month to tonight at Armadale (7pm) is one that looks fraught with danger given that Monarchs are yet to hit top form and are by no means dominant around their home track.

Monarchs are still reeling from their Championship Shield exit following their 54-36 setback at Berwick Bandits last weekend, a blow to the “winning mentality” ethos encouraged by promoter John Campbell this season. They know they should have done better.

Aussie star Justin Sedgmen was once again in the firing line after winning just one point at Shielfield Park in a display that drew criticism on social media from some Monarchs fans.

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Monarchs appear to have circled the wagons around their struggling No.2 star. I approached Sedgmen for an interview but he declined, as did Campbell when asked to comment.

But Monarchs PR chief and director Mike Hunter insisted Sedgmen is not solely culpable and said there are no plans to change the team. “Justin will certainly be riding tomorrow night and for the forseeable future, that is assured. He will, however, have to perk up, he knows that.

“The only riders who are performing as we had hoped are Cameron Heeps and Luke Ruddick. But the others are working hard to put things right to find their best form.

“William Lawson, for instance, tried out a different engine at Berwick, and we will wait and see if he can get it to work for him.”

Sedgmen, who took an enforced break from speedway last season due to visa problems, is undoubtedly finding it harder than he imagined to settle back in to a winning groove, but Hunter added: “I don’t think it has anything to do with his delay in coming back to the sport.

“Justin is a rider who has swings of form and swings of confidence and hasn’t managed to get himself going yet.

“He would have won three races against Newcastle at home recently but for an engine falure. And he had a good paid win from his last ride against Berwick on Friday, he is not that far away.”

Hunter added: “Justin was never any good at Berwick, but it is not good enough to say that. But that is what he’s like, he doesn’t ride Berwick well.

“Our riders are definitely capable of doing much better. Over the last seven heats at Berwick we actually drew with them and would have been ahead up to heat 14, but they finished with a 5-1. It’s all about gating down there.

“We went on a terrible run between heats three and eight which was hopeless. We want better form for ourselves, of course we do, there is no great mystery to that.”

Monarchs say they are confident about pulling back an eight-point deficit sustained against the Scorpions from the first leg and booking their place in the semi-finals. However, after they scraped over the line at home by a single point to defeat Berwick last week, nothing is certain.

Heeps was the top scorer with 11 points at the Eddie Wright Raceway and without question his effort prevented a heavier reverse.

Hunter said: “Scunthorpe have got riders who are capable of doing well, but they do not have a team of Armadale specialists and if we lose this tie on aggregate we will be very disappointed.”

Monarchs have got to seize this opportunity with both hands becuase if they lose it will be the second major competition they have exited with the season barely weeks old.

Monarchs begin their home league campaign next week against high flying Leicester Lions and they badly need a boost ahead of what will be a very testing opener.

Their rained off Championship Shield match against Glasgow Tigers has been rearranged for Friday, May 24.