Bandits are ambushed as Edinburgh Monarchs get season off to flying start
The Edinburgh Monarchs got their 2022 Championship campaign off to a terrific start after a 50-40 victory over the Berwick Bandits.
Skipper and No.1 Sam Masters top scored with a paid maximum with Josh Pickering dropping just a single point to ex-Monarch Ricky Wells.
In truth, there was very little to separate the sides after the opening four races, Masters getting the better of former Grand Prix star Chris Harris in the opening heat of the night. The Bandits reeled off three consecutive heat winners to keep the score level-pegging at 12-12 before Harris raced away for a heat five win. But with the home side duo of Paco Castagna and Kye Thomson filling in the minor places, the sides couldn’t be separated.
The hosts edged in front after Masters and the impressive Lasse Fredriksen, who was making his Armadale debut, registered a 4-2 to give the Monarchs a two-point advantage 22-20 after six heats.
Norwegian Fredriksen picked up his first heat win in the blue and gold with an impressive tapes to flag victory in heat eight, but with James Sarjeant having fallen on the first corner, the race was shared 3-3, and the Monarchs still held a slender two-point advantage at the midway point.
Italy’s Castagna, who was also making his first appearance as a Monarch, emerged victorious after a fantastic battle for four laps with Wells. And with Thomson finishing third, Monarchs now led 29-25 after nine heats. With heats ten, 11 and 12 shared it was all to play for going into the final three races of the evening. And the Monarchs really stamped their authority on the match with a big 5-1 – the first of the meeting – with Josh Pickering and Masters getting the better of Harris and Wells.
The Capital outfit had now opened up an eight-point advantage but that was reduced to six in the penultimate race as Wells, a tactical substitute for Kyle Bickley, took the win ahead of Thomson. Pickering saved the best to last, though, with a quite outrageous pass on Harris on the second bend of the second lap to steam off into the night and, with Masters finishing second, the Monarchs secured a deserved ten-point victory to send the large crowd home happy.
Monarchs: Pickering 14, Masters 13, Castagna 9, Fredriksen 5, Thomson 4, Sarjeant 4, Hook 1.
Bandits: Wells 11, Pijper 9, Harris 8, Etheridge 5, Flint 5, Bickley 1, Proctor 1.