Edinburgh Monarchs assumed outright leadership of the Championship once more after putting the squeeze on Redcar Bears in their speedway clash at Armadale Stadium tonight.
Monarchs took all three match points against a Redcar team who were unfortunate to lose their top rider Jason Garrity after he fell in the first heat.
Skipper Sam Masters, who romped to a 15 point maximum, said: “Redcar have a team of triers and we had to push on until the end of the meeting and not take anything for granted. In the end it was quite comfortable and we flogged them!”
This was Josh Pickering’s first home match since he helped Australia reach the World Under-21 Team Cup Final in Poland in September, where the Aussie quartet will be hoping to strike gold.
Pickering, who made his debut for his country in last weekend’s semi-final in Pocking, Germany, said he felt proud. “I was buzzing and I was very excited to be there and be part of the whole experience.”
Pickering admitted to nerves beforehand. “I was worried that I wouldn’t do myself justice. But I scored seven points, it should have been more but I stuffed up in one race. I don’t think I let anybody down.
“I was probably nervous because I had been thinking about the event for too long. I’ve got a couple of months yet before the final so I can now focus all my attention on Edinburgh.”
With Monarchs and Ipswich Witches tied on points at the top of the table following the Witches win over Monarchs on Thursday, this was a golden chance to pull clear again.
Redcar tried hard but didn’t quite have the overall firepower to threaten the home side.
Monarchs got off to a 5-1 start courtesy of Masters and Mark Riss in the opening heat after Garrity tumbled off on the third bend at the first time of asking. Garrity then withdrew from the meeting after his fall.
This was an undoubted blow to the Bears to lose their No.1 after just one race.
Max Clegg, who moves back into the Monarchs team proper this weekend, was an easy winner of the second race turning it into a bit of a procession. Monarchs moved six points clear in heat three after Erik Riss fended off a fierce challenge from Bears rider Ben Barker to take the chequered flag with his partner Pickering third.
Another Monarchs 4-2 followed in the fourth race, Ricky Wells and Mitchell Davey obliging this time. This put Monarchs 16-8 ahead.
Erik Riss surprisingly fell off while leading the fifth race gifting the Bears a 4-2 which reduced their arrears to six points. But Monarchs reached the halfway stage leading comfortably 30-19, the Bears clearly lamenting the loss of Garrity.
Pickering fell off on the second bend in heat nine and was disqualified from the rerun but Erik Riss triumphed for Monarchs maintaining their lead of 11 points.
On a night when there was a spate of fallers Wells hit the deck in heat 11 and was disqualified leaving partner Clegg to face Bears duo Charles Wright and Jonas B Andersen in the rerun. But Clegg then fell off and remounted before Wright too came to grief and was disqualified leaving two riders only. And Wright also withdrew from the meeting. Andersen prevailed for Redcar for a 3-2 verdict but the visitors still trailed 39-27.
And Monarchs clinched the match points with a 4-2 from Masters and Clegg in heat 13, but it could have been a different story if Redcar had enjoyed some better luck.
Matt Wiliamson and Clegg had a coming together on the fourth bend in heat 14 but both riders thankfully escaped unhurt.
Monarchs: Masters 15, E Riss 11, Clegg 7, Pickering 6, Wells 6, Davey 6, M Riss 5.
Redcar: Barker 12, Andersen 11, Wright 5, Garcia 3, Perks 2, Williamson 1, Garrity 0.