Monarchs set for semi-final slot as Tigers are tamed

Sam Masters, left, tries to get around Nick Morris in heat four with Edinburgh's Rob Banford behind and Victor Palovaara right. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Sam Masters, left, tries to get around Nick Morris in heat four with Edinburgh's Rob Banford behind and Victor Palovaara right. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs all but sealed their place in the League Cup semi-finals after a hard fought but deserved 50-42 victory over arch rivals Glasgow Tigers at Armadale Stadium last night.

In spite of the rainy conditions, the meeting produced some outstanding speedway and Monarchs skipper Craig Cook and Sam Masters were involved in two separate races which took the breath away.

Cook’s heroics unfolded in heat six when he trailed in third place from the tapes behind team-mate Justin Sedgmen and Tigers’ fiery ace Nick Morris. But Cook didn’t panic and played the long game to eventually burst past Morris to clinch a tremendous 5-1 for the Monarchs duo.

Cook, who dropped his only points against Morris in heat 13, said: “I didn’t mind that because Nick is a very good rider and obviously was out for revenge after I passed him in that earlier race.

“From a team perspective it was a great win for the boys, although we knew it would be tight to get the points we needed. It’s now a no-pressure match for us at Workington tonight.”

Not to be outdone Masters took the roof off in an incredible seventh heat. Tigers captain Aaron Summers, who was on a tactical outing, and Kozza Smith, team-rode to keep Masters at the back until the final straight.

The Tigers duo split, just for a second, and Masters pounced like a cat to shoot through the middle of them to take the chequered flag in fantastic style, robbing Summers of victory which left him totally stunned.

Masters, as ever, acted as if nothing special had happened, and said afterwards: “Maybe I was just lucky, they split inches from the line and I managed to squeeze through for the win.

“But it was a good night for us all, we fought hard and grafted well and that was the important thing for everybody.”

The Tigers hung on to Monarchs’ coat tails for much of the match and were only six points in arrears after eight races thanks to a 4-2 from handy reserve Victor Palovaara and Dimitri Berge in heat eight.

The Ashfield side had set their sights on pinching a match point and still had a chance of pulling it off as they pegged Monarchs back again in heat 12 when Summers and Palovaara headed home Monarchs German star Kevin Wolbert with a bit to spare.

Monarchs looked set to close the door in the penultimate race when Erik Riss and reserve Rob Branford streaked away in a 5-1 position ahead of Palovaara and Smith, but Riss fell on the third bend when Branford got too close and unnerved him, and Monarchs had to settle for a 3-3 instead.

This kept the door ajar for the Tigers in the heat 15 top scorers’ race.

But Cook and Masters roared home for a 4-2 advantage against Summers and Morris to assume leadership once more of their qualifying section and boost morale.

And, providing Monarchs don’t get clobbered at Workington tonight, they will line up in the last four of a competition they won last season in great style.

Cook was Monarchs top scorer with 13 and Masters picked up 12. Second string Sedgmen didn’t have the best of nights scoring just five points and he also suffered an engine failure in heat eight.

Monarchs: Cook 13, Masters 12, Wolbert 10, Branford 6, Sedgmen 5, Riss 2, Clegg 2.

Glasgow: Summers 11, Morris 11, Palovaara 10, Lawson 5, Smith 3, Berge 2, Phillips 0