Monarchs mug Bandits in daring raid in the Borders

Monarchs' Sam Masters and Craig Cook get the lead over Claus Vissing and Ben Barker in Heat 13. Pic: RON MacNEILL
Monarchs' Sam Masters and Craig Cook get the lead over Claus Vissing and Ben Barker in Heat 13. Pic: RON MacNEILL
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Forget the Hatton Garden heist, Edinburgh Monarchs pulled of their own daring speedway raid at the Shielfield Park home of Berwick Bandits on Saturday to boost their hopes of successfully defending their League Cup crown.

Inspired by a masterful 15-point maximum by skipper Craig Cook, Monarchs mugged their hosts 50-40 to claim all four qualifying section points and sent a powerful message to current leaders Glasgow Tigers that they have no intention of giving up on the trophy without a tooth and nail fight.

Cook said: “It was a case of well done to all the boys. Our first away win and many more to come.”

Monarchs produced a strong and cohesive performance in the second half after trailing 22-20 after seven heats.

A surprise 5-1 from Justin Sedgmen and Rob Branford in the very next race opened the scoring floodgates for Monarchs, who won four of the final seven races, including a further two 5-1 advantages, to leave the Bandits reeling with little or no chance of progressing further.

Sedgmen failed to score in his first two rides and ended up with just four points overall, and today co-boss John Campbell insisted the Aussie only had himself to blame for his poor return from four starts.

“Justin put himself off before the meeting because he has it in his head that he hates the Berwick circuit. If he just had in his head it’s the same as any other place and if you make a start you win the race he’d do better. But he psyches himself out of it.”

Campbell, however, was satisfied with the outcome bearing in mind that some Monarchs teams of the past used to relish the trip to Berwick about as much as a visit to the dentist.

“The match developed very nicely for us and I was delighted with the result,” said Campbell. “It was clear from his first race that Craig would be the dominant force – and so it proved.

“Sam (Masters) was close behind and that made it very hard for the opposition. And Rob (Branford), who scored seven points, was the star reserve making it difficult for Berwick to do anything.”

After winning his first two races for Monarchs in their victory over Workington at home on Friday, Erik Riss was keen to impress around Berwick, a large track which should have suited the young World Longtrack Champion. But the German ended up pointless, and Campbell added: ”While Berwick is a big track, it’s not a wide track. Erik did not make a start and ended up at the back in every race, but didn’t disappear into the distance. He’ll be better next time.”

After Glasgow triumphed at Berwick the previous week, it was important Monarchs emulated their feat, and Campbell concluded: “It certainly gives us a chance of topping our section – we’ll just see how it goes.”

Berwick: Doolan 11, Vissing 8, Edberg 8, Jorgensen 7, Barker 6, Crang 0.

Monarchs: Cook 15, Masters 12, Wolbert 9, Branford 7, Sedgmen 4, Clegg 3. Riss 0.