Monarchs stun Rye House with Craig Cook back in form

Monarchs ace Craig Cook leads Jason Garrity, Nicki Barrett and team-mate Justin Sedgmen on his way to an 18-point paid maximum. Picture: Ron MacNeill.
Monarchs ace Craig Cook leads Jason Garrity, Nicki Barrett and team-mate Justin Sedgmen on his way to an 18-point paid maximum. Picture: Ron MacNeill.
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“Fantastic” was the only word co-promoter John Campbell could find to describe Edinburgh Monarchs’ stunning 59-36 Premier League speedway victory at Rye House Rockets on Saturday which secured them all four match points.

Monarchs are now in second place in the table and could be poised to snatch top spot again after leaders Somerset Rebels failed to collect anything at Workington Comets. The Rebels have one home meeting left and can only reach a total of 67 points. Monarchs will match that if they secure maximum points from their three home fixtures this weekend which would leave them requiring just one point from their trip to Glasgow Tigers on Sunday to trump the Rebels.

Although Rye House have been unpredictable this season, they were simply outclassed in Hertfordshire by a Monarchs side who were determined to send out a message to their play-off rivals that their appetite for the looming championship fight remains very hearty.

After opening up with a 4-2 in the first race Monarchs never looked back and even the home supporters were quick to offer their congratulations despite witnessing a clinical destruction job on their own team.

Campbell said he could not praise his side highly enough, especially as their victory was engineered without the services of Stevie Worrall who suffered an awkward fall against Sheffield Tigers at Armadale on Friday.

“The result suggests an easy win, but the team were just fantastic,” said Campbell. “They showed such determination to run up a big score and everybody was in the thick of things and scoring points. And the tremendous feeling we had throughout the camp earlier in the season, which we had lost, due perhaps to a lack of matches, is now back again after this result.

“It was definitely one of our best performances of the season and the Rye House supporters were generous in defeat after we fought for every single point.”

Campbell went on: “The talk in the pits was not just about winning the meeting by the required seven-point margin which rewards you with all four match points, it was all about scoring as many points as possible in case it comes down to points difference with Somerset if we are tied with them.

“I knew if we got off to a good start we would race away with the match, we got the start we needed and that was it really.”

And for No.1 Craig Cook, who has been wrestling with some inner demons of late, it was an evening in which he reaffirmed that his talent is not on the wane, far from it. Cook dazzled as he stormed to a paid 18 point maximum from six rides, and said afterwards: “This was an awesome victory for the boys and it is a pleasure to be part of this team.”

Campbell commented: “The great Craig Cook that we have enjoyed on so many occasions is back, he was outstanding and won one race by half a lap.”

Team-mate Sam Masters was equally impressive. The Aussie star romped to a 16-point haul and was beaten just once by Rockets’ fiery ace Jason Garrity in heat nine. That turned out to be the Rockets only heat advantage as they pulled off a 7-2 tactical win courtesy of Garrity and team-mate Steve Boxall.

Fellow countryman Max Fricke partnered Cook and Masters to 5-1 successes in heats three and ten respectively and was more than satisfied with his eventual nine-point tally.

He said: “Rye House had some good riders in their team but I was confident we would come away with a win. I wasn’t sure by how much, but the final margin showed just how capable we all were.

“We have definitely sent out a signal that we are very much still in the hunt for the league title, but it will be a different ball game once the play-off groups start.”

On his personal performance, Fricke added: “It wasn’t too bad and I only dropped a few points, which is pretty decent.”

Monarchs used rider replacement to cover for Worrall and gained a creditable ten points from the facility, but the team will be hoping he returns to the saddle for their crucial four meetings bonanza this weekend.

Rye House: Garrity 15, Bowen 9, Kennett 8, Boxall 3, Greenwood 1, Barrett 0.

Monarchs: Cook 17, Masters 16, Fricke 9, Sedgmen 8, Sneddon 6, Fox 3.