Holders Edinburgh Monarchs are through to the Knockout Cup Final for the second season in a row after polishing off Newcastle Diamonds in last night’s nervy semi-final second leg at Brough Park.
Although Monarchs went down 53-37 they scraped through 93-87 on aggregate in the wake of their huge win by 22 points in the first leg win at Armadale.
Monarchs now face Somerset Rebels in the final and Monarchs boss John Campbell said: “Somerset are the second best team in the league but we are the best team in the league, so it didn’t matter who we met.
“It’s never easy against Somerset but we have beaten them home and away in the league this season and they have not beaten us in the same manner.
“The pressure will be on Somerset to do better. They are our biggest threat but I’m still confident we will win the cup once again. After some blips at home Somerset have had some good results again lately and seem to be back on track”
Monarchs needed only to share the majority of the races against the Diamonds to make life comfortable for themselves. But The Diamonds had other ideas and certainly had no intention of rolling over like puppies. And when they went 12-6 ahead after just three heats, Monarchs became a trifle jittery before they steadied the ship with a 4-2 from Sam Masters and captain Craig Cook in the fifth race to trail by just two points, 16-14.
However, the Diamonds negated that with a 4-2 of their own in the very next race courtesy of Steve Worral and reserve Tero Aarnio over Masters and Max Clegg and this put the home side four points in front, but with still a mountain to climb.
And another 4-2 in heat seven restored the Diamonds’ lead of six points. But Monarchs remained focused and knew only a major collapse would spoil their progress to what will be their second cup final appearance of the season.
Still, the Diamonds kept plugging away and stretched their advantage to eight points, 31-23 in heat nine with a 4-2 from Richie Worrall and Anton Rosen over Masters and Clegg, who was had a torrid time failing to score from his four rides.Team-mate Erik Riss also struggled but eventually atoned by winning heat 14 for his sole victory of the night.
The Diamonds then went ten in front after ten races before a win from Cook, his first of the night, in the next race cut Diamonds’ lead to eight points once again. However, the Diamonds then sparkled once more and led 45-33 after 13 heats, a commendable fightback given their hefty arrears and their fans were appreciative of that.
In the end Newcastle, thanks to a 5-1 in heat 15, were only six points adrift over the two legs and will point to the bad luck they suffered in the first match for exiting the competition.
On Saturday Monarchs lost their penultimate Premier League fixture when they went down 49-41 at Workington Comets who became the only side in the division to complete anunbeaten home record in 2015.
Monarchs, who were minus Erik Riss and Max Clegg, squandered some points throughout the match which undermined their efforts, but Campbell pointed out: “The one difference was that Workington had something to race for and the result did not matter to us at all.
“We did have chances but Kevin (Wolbert) dropped points when in race-winning positions and Justin (Sedgmen) suffering an engine failure on the line.
“It didn’t happen on the night and we have moved on.”
Skipper Craig Cook was top scorer with 13 points while team-mate Sam Masters picked up nine points.
Newcastle: S Worrall 15, R Worrall 13, Aarnio 9, Lindgren 8, Rosen 5, Nielsen 3.
Monarchs: Sedgmen 10, Wolbert 8, Cook 7, Masters 7, Riss 3, Branford 2, Clegg 0.