Edinburgh Monarchs cruise past Birmingham Brummies to set up KO Cup semi-final against rivals Glasgow Tigers
The Edinburgh Monarchs cruised through to the KO Cup semi-finals after a second leg 50-40 success over the Birmingham Brummies.
The Capital side travelled south confident of progressing following a 54-36 victory in the first leg at Armadale earlier this month and will now face fierce rivals the Glasgow Tigers in the last four of the competition after a 104-76 aggregate win.
The outcome never looked in doubt at Perry Barr when the Monarchs assumed the lead as early as heat three, Australian duo Josh Pickering and Kye Thomson, who were both terrific, combining for a 5-1 to give the visitors a 11-7 advantage on the night.
An 18-point deficit was always likely to prove a tall order for the Brummies to overturn and it became mission impossible when the visitors secured a second successive 5-1 through Richie Worrall and guest reserve Dan Gilkes.
The hosts gave themselves just a flicker of hope with a 5-1 of their own in heat six, in-form Chris Harris and German team-mate Valentin Grobauer getting the better of Worrall and Drew Kemp, but the Monarchs once again showed their mettle with another 5-1 from the exemplary Pickering and Thomson to lead the meeting 25-17 at the midway point.
Skipper and No.1 Sam Masters secured his third heat win of the evening and Monarchs' place in the semi-finals with a tapes to flag win in heat 11 before Thomson picked up his first race win edging out the Brummies' James Shanes who finished second.
A 4-2 in the penultimate heat of the night in favour of the Monarchs ensured a second-leg victory.
And despite Masters being unbeaten by an opposing his rider in his four outings, he allowed compatriots Pickering and Thomson to contest the final heat at the West Midlands venue.
And it was Pickering who stormed to a 15-point maximum with his fifth race win with Thomson finishing in third.
Monarchs now turn their attention to tomorrow night's Championship play-off quarter-final first-leg when the Redcar Bears are the visitors to Armadale.
Brummies: Harris 9, Thomas 8, Grobauer 7, Morris 6, Shanes 5, Riss 5, Ruml 0.
Monarchs: Pickering 15, Masters 12, Thomson 9, Worrall 7, Gilkes 4, Kemp 2, Rowe 1