Edinburgh Monarchs' KO Cup dreams go up in smoke after defeat at Redcar Bears
A four-point semi-final first-leg advantage wasn't enough for the Capital septet as a 54-36 defeat on Teesside ensured a relatively straightforward evening for the fired-up hosts, who comfortably progress 97-83 on aggregate where they will face either the reigning champions the Poole Pirates or Leicester Lions.
In truth, it was a underwhelming performance from the riders in blue and gold at the ECCO Arena but they have little time to feel sorry for themselves with a Championship play-off quarter-final clash – against the Redcar Bears – next weekend. The first leg is at Armadale on Friday before the return fixture next Sunday.
The visitors produced just four race winners in the meeting, Josh Pickering, who top scored with 13, taking three of them with Norwegian Lasse Fredriksen the only other Monarch to see the chequered flag.
Skipper and No.1 Sam Masters had an off-night scoring just four, however he did suffer some mechanical gremlins while leading heat five on the final lap. The 31-year-old Australian, who has been in sensational form all year, is still feeling the effects of a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder sustained at the end of July.
The writing was on the wall for the Monarchs after the first couple of heats, a 4-2 and 5-1 completely wiping out their slender first-leg advantage within the first eight laps.
There was somewhat of a reprieve at the midway point when Fredriksen and James Sarjeant combined for a 5-1, the score 27-21 in favour of the Bears who held just a two-point lead on aggregate.
But that was as good as it got for the Monarchs whose hopes of reaching their second successive KO Cup final went out like a light, the Bears piling up the heat advantages and move a step closer to securing a trophy they celebrated winning just three years ago.
Bears: Wright 13, Lawson 11, Kerr 10, Andersen 9, Jenkins 5, Newman 4, Edwards 2.
Monarchs: Pickering 13, Thomson 6, Fredriksen 5, Masters 4, Sarjeant 3, Castagna 3, Hook 2.