Edinburgh Monarchs in danger of losing Premier league crown

From rear: Victor Palovaara, Craig Cook, Nick Morris and Justin Sedgmen prepare for tapes up at Ashfield. Picture: Ron MacNeill
From rear: Victor Palovaara, Craig Cook, Nick Morris and Justin Sedgmen prepare for tapes up at Ashfield. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs have a little bit of work to do if they want to claim a fifth British Premier League speedway crown.

They lost 48-41 against Glasgow Tigers in their Play-Off Grand Final first leg clash at Ashfield last night which proved a tortuous evening for both sets of supporters.

The match took almost three hours to complete which is nothing short of scandalous even allowing for the injuries to Tigers duo Aaron Summers and Hynek Stichauer and a rib injury to Monarchs reserve Rob Branford.

Monarchs skipper Craig Cook had upped the ante ahead of the meeting suggesting all the pressure was on Glasgow because of the huge financial investment made in the club at the start of the season.

And there was an almost tangible sense of expectation on the Tigers to deliver among their supporters. But it was Monarchs who struck first in the opening heat with a 4-2 from Cook and Justin Sedgmen.

The Tigers were using the rider replacement facility for Finn Kauko Nieminen who aggravated a collarbone injury in their play-off semi final clash against Somerset Rebels last Sunday.

Reserve James Sarjeant covered the first of his rides but jumped the start in that first race and broke the tapes. He was replaced by Hynek Stichauer who fell while at the back, not the start the Tigers had hoped for.

Monarchs then suffered bad luck in the next heat when reserves Rob Branford and Max Clegg gated in a 5-1 position. But Branford locked up and Clegg could not avoid plouging into him.

Branford was excluded from the rerun which the Tigers won with a 4-2 to level the scores 6-6. And the young Aussie, following medical attention, was then ruled out of the meeting with a hip injury as a consequence.

Tigers’ Nick Morris then went through the tapes in heat three underlining perhaps the tension the home side were feeling.

Monarchs’ Sam Masters was forced to start off 15 metres in the next heat after being excluded under the two minute rule and this handed an easy 5-1 to the Tigers as Monarchs frittered away needless points.

Morris was given a warning by referee Chris Gay in heat five for jumping the start once more. He then did it again and was excluded from the race which Monarchs took with a 4-2 to trail by just two points, 16-14.

Tigers took a four-point lead, 20-16, in the sixth race with a 4-2 from Richard Lawson and Victor Palovaara.

Tigers tailender Stichauer then locked up in front of his skipper Aaron Summers who ran into him in heat seven, and the ambulance was called on to the track.

Summers was taken to hospital with a wrist injury. A second ambulance was then awaited for Stichauer.

With Monarchs pair Kevin Wolbert and Erik Riss as the only two finishers, the Capital side scooped a 5-0 advantage to take the lead 21-20.

But Tigers hit back with a 5-1 from Morris and Palovaara two races later to retake the lead 28-25, which they increased to five points with a 4-2 in heat 10. Cook then piled into the air fence in the next race while chasing Sarjeant and was excluded. The Tigers gained a 4-2 verdict to edge further in front 36-29 A gap the Tigers maintained until the end.