Crisis, what crisis?
Stung by losing their unbeaten home record to Glasgow Tigers on Friday, Edinburgh Monarchs bounced back in tremendous style to inflict the same fate on their oldest rivals in an astonishing Premier League derby fixture at Ashfield Stadium yesterday.
Monarchs, who looked so self assured this time, silenced the Tigers and their vociferous supporters by pulling off a comfortable 51-39 Premier League victory and scooped all four match points, which was simply the icing on the cake.
Some doom merchants talked of Monarchs being in meltdown after their Armadale reverse but what a difference 48 hours makes. Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess called Friday’s loss, the first time Tigers had triumphed at Armadale since 2011, a “shocking performance”. But he was beaming from ear to ear as he watched his fired up squad tear the heart out of their opponents, who were shellshocked at falling apart in front of their home support, and did not see this coming. Talk about being brought back down to earth.
Harkess said: “We honestly believed we could come and get a result. Friday was not our night but there was nothing to stop yesterday being our day.
“I’m happy it happened but I certainly could not have predicted it.
“Heat one, when we got a 4-2 from Erik Riss and Sam Masters, set the ball rolling for us and it carried on from there.” Asked to explain the transformation in fortune, Harkess replied: “Every one of our riders right down to the reserves fought for every point and that’s what counts. We were also competitive out of the starts which we were not in the first match. We got into the first bend on equal terms with Glasgow and sheer determination made that happen. I know some people doubted if we had the ability to come back from what happened on Friday, and my message to them is ‘Just look at the score!’.
Some of the Tigers team who shone at Armadale folded like a pack of cards on their own track, indeed the Tigers only produced four race winners over the course of the entire meeting, a worrying statistic if they want to stay the course in the championship race.
Monarchs were superbly marshalled by Craig Cook who stormed to a brilliant 15-point maximum which provoked, diplomatically, some heckling from the Ashfield hospitality area.
Not that Cook cared, he does his talking on the track and what a perfect performance ahead of his British Final title bid at Wolverhampton tonight.
Monarchs moved into a six-point lead after just three heats when Justin Sedgmen and Kevin Wolbert zipped from the gate for a 5-1 over Dimitr Berge and Aaron Summers. And with Monarchs spreading race wins throughout the whole team, Tigers were given no opportunity to get back into proceedings.
A 4-2 from Cook and Riss in the sixth heat followed by a another three races later, maintained Monarchs’ six-point advantage and countered the only 5-1 Tigers achieved in heat eight, courtesy of Richard Lawson and James Sarjeant.
Cook’s victory in heat nine was perhaps his most meritorious of the meeting. Lying in third position, Cook picked off Summers on the top bends and partner Max Clegg pipped Sarjeant for third place.
Clegg will have been happier with his display as he collected three points and they were just as important as Cook’s full house.
Monarchs really coasted towards the winning line in the second half and never looked in any imminent danger of being headed. Ten points to the good with just one race left, Cook and Kevin Wolbert slammed in a 4-2 over Summers to round things off in style.
Masters, still short of his best, picked up seven points which included victory in his second outing. And the Aussie was so relieved to give the blue and gold legions something to celebrate.
He said: “Friday was so disappointing because our supporters expected so much more from us, and it was my worst home meeting of the season. Revenge is probably too strong a word because it’s only league points at stake at the end of the day, but we wanted to put on a show at Ashfield, and we did. It’s great to get our winning run back on track again.”
Glasgow’s best performer was once again Richard Lawson who piled up 13 points from his five starts. It could have been more had he not come a cropper in the final heat.
Monarchs’ reserves were not outshone by their Tigers counterparts and that proved a big factor. Riss scored seven, brilliantly winning that opening race, and the young German is beginning to make his mark at the tail-end which can only aid his confidence.
It would be wrong to say everything is fine in the Monarchs garage, they do have weaknesses, but when it comes to confounding their critics, they have few peers.
Glasgow: Lawson 13, Summers 8, Palovaara 7, Sarjeant 5, Worrall 4, Berge 2.
Monarchs: Cook 15, Sedgmen 11, Wolbert 8, Riss 7, Masters 7, Clegg 3.