Edinburgh Monarchs have no reply to Sheffield’s steel

Ricky Wells leads Jan Graversen and Max Clegg in heat seven. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Ricky Wells leads Jan Graversen and Max Clegg in heat seven. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Sheffield Tigers are the form team in the Championship right now.

They lead the table after taking 31 points from their past nine fixtures and yesterday at Owlerton they extended that winning sequence to 34 points from ten after defeating Edinburgh Monarchs comfortably 55-35 and have now installed themselves as favourites to win the play-offs.

Monarchs recruited Workington’s Ty Proctor as a guest for the injured Sam Masters and unfortunately Proctor ran a last place in the opening heat as the Tigers got off to a flier with a 4-2 from Josh Grajczonek and Todd Kurtz. Mark Riss, in what his first match back after a two month lay off, claimed a good second place.

And the Tigers repeated the trick in the second race when Jan Graversen headed home Monarchs’ Josh Pickering, but with George Wood settling in for third spot, this second 4-2 put the Tigers 8-4 up already.

But Monarchs stopped the rot in the third heat when they earned a share of the spoils after former Tiger Ricky Wells flew from the gate and no-one was able to catch him.

Monarchs’ Erik Riss packed up while lying in second place in the fourth race and so did Sheffield’s Wood soon after. A pushing race then occurred for third place which Wood won. With Kyle Howarth taking the chequered flag, this third 4-2 advantage put the Tigers further in front 15-9.

Monarchs were making a fight of this clash and snatched a 4-2 of their own in the fifth heat when Mark Riss rode superbly to win and Proctor passed Josh Bates for third place and this reduced Monarchs’ arrears to just four points, 17-13.

But disaster struck for Monarchs in the next heat when Erik Riss packed up for a second time and this handed the Tigers the opportunity to gain their first 5-1 of the match courtesy of Grajczonek and Kurtz and Sheffield doubled their lead to 22-14.

Sheffield grabbed another 4-2 to extend their lead to ten points in the seventh race allowing Monarchs to give Mark Riss a tactical outing in the eighth race as they attempted to reduce their leeway, 
and Josh Pickering replaced Mitchell Davey at reserve.

But despite Pickering shooting from the tapes to win the race, Mark Riss never got going and trailed in last. A 3-3 not the outcome Monarchs had hoped for and an opportunity wasted and the gap remained at ten points 29-19.

Lasse Bjerre and Bates extended Sheffield’s lead to 14 points with a second 5-1 in the ninth heat. Erik Riss, who was having a nightmare of a meeting for Monarchs, clattered into the safety fence after going wide, relegating himself to last and was very lucky to stay on his bike.

The roof was beginning to fall in for Monarchs as the Tigers extracted yet another 4-2 in heat ten to lead 38-22 and Monarchs, it seemed, had little left in the tank.

Two shared races in heats 11 and 12 won by Tigers stars Howarth and Bjerre kept the gap at 16 points and Sheffield were practically home and dry.

And a further 4-2 from Grajczonek and Howarth over Proctor and Erik Riss clinched the match points for the rampant Tigers with two races to spare.

Monarchs were really undone by two pointless scores from Max Clegg and Erik Riss, but Pickering notched up his third double-figure score on the bounce.

Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell said: “It went pretty much as I expected. Sheffield were a team on top of their game and rode with lots of confidence, we move on now.

“And our match at Redcar Bears on Thursday is a far more important fixture than this one was.”

Sheffield: Grajczonek 12, Howarth 12, Bjerre 11, Kurtz 6, Bates 6, Graversen 6, Wood 2.

Monarchs: Wells 12, Pickering 10, M Riss 6, Proctor 5, Davey 2, E.Riss 0, Clegg 0.