It may not have been a 24 carat display but Edinburgh Monarchs moved four points clear at the top of the Championship table with a hard fought victory over Newcastle Diamonds at Armadale tonight.
The Diamonds arrived minus their top two of Robert Lambert and Steve Worrall and so the trend of visiting sides being without a full complement of their own riders continues.
Friday seems to be a problematical day, as Glasgow Tigers last week have been the sole team to visit Armadale this season with a full roster.
Skipper Sam Masters said: “We were six points down at one stage so to come back from that and still win was awesome.”
Monarchs got off to the worst possible start by surrendering a 5-1 in the opening heat. Mark Riss was disqualified for riding on to the centre green and was replaced by reserve Max Clegg, but he and Ricky Wells were comfortably beaten by Diamonds pair Aaron Summers and Ashley Morris.
Thankfully Monarchs reversed that setback with a 5-1 of their own in heat two, Mitchell Davey taking the chequered flag and Clegg following his partner home.
But the Diamonds were looking impressive and grabbed a second 5-1 courtesy of Ludvig Lindgren and Lewis Rose in the third heat as they easily outpaced Erik Riss and Josh Pickering to give the Diamonds the lead again 11-7.
It was nip and tuck already and a 4-2 from race winner Masters and Davey in heat four reduced Monarchs’ arrears to two points, 13-11.
Monarchs pair Pickering and Erik Riss were outgated in the fifth race as Summers and Morris raced to an easy 5-1 to put Newcastle in front 18-12. Monarchs were not riding at all well as Newcastle were far sharper from the gate.
But again Monarchs hit back with a 5-1 from Wells and Mark Riss in the next race to close the gap to two points once again.
After a collision on the fourth bend in heat seven Newcastle’s Lewis Rose was disqualified and the race was awarded 5-1 in Monarchs’ favour, Masters winning at the time and Clegg claiming second place. This allowed Monarchs to take the lead for the first time, 22-20.
The first share of the spoils in heat eight saw Morris win for the Diamonds and they remained two points behind at the halfway stage.
Erik Riss was toiling to get out of the starts and was relegated to second place behind Newcastle’s Ben Barker who led Newcastle to a second 3-3 in a row in heat nine.
At last Monarchs got out of the traps ahead in heat ten and Mark Riss and Wells grabbed a timely 5-1 to stretch the Capital sides’s lead to six points, 33-27.
Another 5-1 followed in heat 11, Masters winning with ease but Clegg picked off Summers and caught Morris on the line for a brilliant second place, and this gave the home riders some much needed breathing space as they now led 38-28.
Monarchs continued to take the shine off the Diamonds with a 4-2 from Masters and Wells in heat 13 and now led 46-34, which clinched the match with two races remaining.
Erik Riss said: “I didn’t ride well, I struggled a bit. My engine was took weak, but we got the win which was the main thing.”
And reserve star Clegg, who clocked up nine points, said: “I felt pretty good, I enjoyed myself out there, and to get the win was great and it keeps us at the top of the table.”
Monarchs: Masters 13, Wells 10, Clegg 9, M Riss 7, E Riss 7, Davey 5, Pickering 1
Newcastle: Barker 10, Morris 9, Lingdren 8, Rose 6, Summers 5, Hopwood 1, Coles 0