Monarchs hopes high for semi-final berth

Justin Sedgmen tries to pull away from Comets' Nicki Barrett, Rusty Harrison. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Justin Sedgmen tries to pull away from Comets' Nicki Barrett, Rusty Harrison. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell today insisted his side are still in a favourable position to progress to the League Cup speedway semi-finals.

His insistence follows their failure to pick up a point as they went down 50-40 against Workington Comets at Derwent Park on Saturday.

He said: “We are still in a very strong position. Workington would need to win their home and away fixtures against Berwick and would also have to turn round a points difference of over fifty. They are unlikely to do that.”

Workington’s task has also been made that bit harder after Rusty Harrison ploughed into the air fence in heat 14 and is facing a spell on the sidelines, a crash that caused a 50-minute delay to the meeting.

Monarchs were forced to go into the crunch meeting without German star Kevin Wolbert who had been recalled to ride in a Best Pairs event in his home country. It was a decision Monarchs tried to reverse, but without success. Campbell said: “We had known about this for a little while and had spent every day last week to try and stop him going.

“But the FIM [speedway’s world governing body]decreed he had to go. Kevin assures me this will be the last time this will happen, and I recorded him saying that!”

Monarchs were forced to use the rider replacement facility to cover his absence but only picked up three points from it.

“The track the way it was at Workington, Kevin would probably have scored seven or eight,” added Campbell, “so we fell short by a few points.”

It didn’t help Monarchs’ cause that skipper Craig Cook surprisingly struggled round his former track and could only muster one race victory from his five outings. Campbell noted: “It wasn’t one of Craig’s best nights and this was a big influence.”

The Comets got off to the ideal start when Kenneth Hansen and Ricky Well stormed to a 5-1 against Cook and Erik Riss in the opening race. However, Riss and Justin Sedgmen levelled the scores with a 5-1 of their own in heat three against Rene Bach and Harrison.

Sedgmen, who hasn’t been on top of his game recently, bounced back in style and was Monarchs top scorer with 11 points which included a trio of victories. And for sure the Aussie will be heartened after this performance.

But Monarchs hopes of running their hosts close suffered a setback in the second half when they yielded two 5-1’s in heats ten and 12 which allowed the Comets to pull out a 12-point lead with only three races remaining.

Monarchs grabbed a 4-2 in the penultimate race which was awarded following Harrison’s spill, requiring them to take a 5-1 from heat 15 to secure the point they badly craved to put their qualification beyond doubt.

But Cook and Sam Masters couldn’t overhaul Bach and indeed had to work hard to keep former Monarchs reserve Kyle Howarth at bay. Monarchs director Mike Hunter commented: “We must now await results elsewhere and hope there are not too many more hidden German events to weaken the side.”

Workington:- Bach 11, Howarth 10, Wells 9, Hansen 8, Barrett 5, Harrison 4, Greaves 3.

Monarchs:- Sedgmen 11, Masters 10, Cook 8, Branford 6, Riss 4, Clegg 1.