Edinburgh Monarchs’ play-off hopes will all depend on whether they can take something out of tonight’s derby encounter against fellow aspirants Glasgow Tigers at Ashfield Stadium, according to Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess.
Returning home with even one point would almost certainly spell the end of Monarchs’ campaign, although they still have a Knockout Cup semi-final to look forward to.
Harkess said: “It’s always been quite clear to us what we need to do to secure our qualification. At the moment we have a two-point lead over the chasing pack. We are fighting for the fourth and final spot.
“If Workington win all of their remaining fixtures they will finish above us, providing everybody can complete their fixtures before the cut off date on Sunday.
“And Ipswich cannot catch us providing we defeat Berwick Bandits at home on Friday.”
Glasgow have two crucial away matches left at Ipswich on Thursday and Lakeside 24 hours later, and Harkess believes they will be difficult matches in the south of England. “If Glasgow win them both they will finish above us unless we get something from tonight’s clash. One point is no good to us, it wouldn’t damage Glasgow. We need either a score draw or an outright win.”
Monarchs have enjoyed success at Ashfield once already this season in a surprise Knockout Cup victory and they go into the fixture buoyed by another strong showing against Lakeside Hammers at Armadale last Friday.
Monarchs were comfortable 57-33 winners and Harkess said: “We got stuck in again although conditions were a bit difficult for some of our riders. But the match was over again by the first half because we proved to be so dominant.”
Monarchs have been on an upward curve ever since bringing in Richie Worrall, and he’ll have a point to prove against Glasgow who axed him a few weeks ago. William Lawson has also come on board to bolster Monarchs and Harkess concluded it would be extremely disappointing if they miss out on the play-offs.
“We always set our stall out with the aim of reaching the play-offs, that has never changed over the years. So obviously it would be very disappointing if we don’t make them.
“Because if we do get through anything can then happen. And with the matches over two legs we must stand a chance especially as our home form has been exceptional in recent weeks.”
Monarchs’ in-form Swedish reserve Joel Andersson has been ruled out of action for at least a week following a foot injury sustained against Lakeside and Monarchs have recruited Sheffeld’s Broc Nicol as a guest replacement, a surprise choice as it will be the American’s first visit to Ashfied.
Fellow Swede Victor Palovaara, who injured his hand in a fall in the same match, has passed himself fit to ride declaring: “My hand is a lot better so I race on.”