Edinburgh Monarchs remain in pole position in the Championship division after their comfortable victory over Peterborough Panthers at Armadale Stadium tonight.
Two of Panthers’ riders withdrew from the match after heavy falls and, already without Ulrich Ostergaard, they faced an uphill battle to put the brakes on their hosts and, frankly, they didn’t have their troubles to seek throughout the meeting.
Edinburgh skipper Sam Masters said: “I don’t think Peterborough like riding our place. It was awesome to score a maximum and we came away with an easy win.”
And Ricky Wells, despite not making starts in his first two races, picked up 12 points and said: “I was pretty happy with how I rode and to get double figures is always good.”
Peterborough arrived hoping to snap a run of three league defeats in a row which has seen them plummet to third bottom of the table and out of play-off contention, though it is early days yet.
And it was just as important from Edinburgh’s point of view that they push on at home because, as promoter John Campbell pointed out, Monarchs will toil to win another away match if their heat leaders only manage four wins between them as was the case at Workington Comets last weekend. This comes on top of criticism by team manager Alex Harkess who says Monarchs are throwing away too many points.
Monarchs shared the first two heats, Wells comfortably winning the opening race and Max Clegg easily winning the second race. Unfortunately, team-mate Mitchell Davey fell off on the second bend and even though he remounted the Australian could not make up the lost ground and finished last.
The portents for a close match were evident when heat three was also shared as Peterborough’s Paul Starke pushed Monarchs’ German star Erik Riss wide on the first bend and was untroubled thereafter, the scores tied 9-9.
Monarchs made the breakthrough in the next race which was awarded when Panthers reserve Tom Bacon tumbled off on the fourth bend. Masters was way out in front and Davey was second. This 5-1 pushed Monarchs four points ahead 14-10.
Panthers No.1 Jack Holder was disqualified in heat five for coming down on the third bend and this was a gift for Riss and partner Josh Pickering. Riss took his revenge on Starke while Pickering claimed third place and this 4-2 extended the lead to six points.
But Panthers hit back with a 4-2 of their own in heat six, Bradley Wilson-Dean showing Wells the quickest way around Armadale and with Kenneth Hansen finishing in third spot as the Panthers reduced their arrears to 20-16.
Monarchs paid back the favour in the next heat when Masters and Clegg grabbed a 4-2 to go six in front again.
Panthers star Holder was withdrawn from the meeting with an injured knee following his fall in heat five. That should have acted as a spur for Monarchs, but Davey was disqualified in heat eight when he and Hansen came down coming out of the second turn. And Hansen, too, was pulled from the meeting on medical grounds.
In the rerun Clegg held his nerve to take the chequered flag to earn a share of the spoils which maintained Monarchs’ six-point lead.
Without Holder and Hansen the Panthers were now up against it and Monarchs capitalised on their opponents’ misfortune with another 4-2 in heat nine to increase their lead to eight points.
The Panthers spirit appeared to be broken when Masters and Clegg, who brilliantly shot up the inside of Wilson-Dean on the run-in to the line, scorched to a 5-1 in heat 11 to increase their lead to 14 points, 40-26.
And another 5-1 from Erik Riss and Clegg in heat 12 put Monarchs over the horizon, leading 45-27.
A third 5-1 followed from Masters and Wells which put Monarchs on 50 points and they were now on easy street. A fourth 5-1 from Pickering, his first race win of the match, and Clegg in the penultimate heat, saw Monarchs scoring points for fun as they now led 55-29.
And Masters finished off in style winning heat 15 to complete a 15-point maximum.
Monarchs: Masters 15, Clegg 13, Wells 12, E Riss 11, Pickering 6, Davey 2, Ruddick 1.
Peterborough: Wilson-Dean 11, Starke 9, Lambert 4, Bacon 2, Holder 2, Hansen 2.