The Premier League speedway play-off battle is beginning to hot up with Edinburgh Monarchs hoping to avoid any more rain-offs in order to cement their place in the top six and with it the opportunity to win a hat-trick of championship titles.
And, to that end, Monarchs really need to try and pick up something from tonight’s visit to Somerset Rebels – displaced at the top of the table by Glasgow Tigers last weekend – and also their their trip to Sheffield Tigers 24 hours later. Both are tough fixtures. Somerset’s 14-match unbeaten record was smashed at Sheffield on Thursday and Monarchs boss John Campbell feels the Capital side have the capability to become only the second team to beat Somerset in the league this season.
And, in German star Erik Riss, Campbell feels he has a rider who can turn things in Monarchs’ favour especially as the Rebels are without concussion victim Charles Wright and will use rider replacement as cover.
Recalling how Riss stormed to an impressive 14-point double-figure haul in the corresponding fixture at the Oaktree Arena a year ago which Monarchs won 52-41, Campbell said: “If Erik does as well as he did last time at Somerset and can pass that expertise on to his brother Mark, I don’t think Somerset will beat us because we still have three top guys in addition to our two German riders.
“I’m not saying Erik will do as well again, it’s a different night and, in all probability, different track conditions. But, at this point, in 2015 nobody would have believed that Erik would have done so well.”
With Monarchs starting to fuse together as a unit, Campbell added: “If we can get four of our top five riders fired up as well then we should be well placed to take something from the match.”
Monarchs, who slipped to fourth place in the league following Peterborough Panthers’ victory at Berwick Bandits on Saturday, will also look to the ever-improving Dan Bewley to produce more magic from the reserve berth.
Bewley has been on fire for Monarchs recently and guested for Glasgow at Rye House Rockets on Saturday and scored nine points which helped the Ashfield men to a 46-44 triumph, taking them to the summit following their home win over Ipswich Witches on Sunday.
Bewley said: “Our meetings at Somerset and Sheffield will probably be our hardest matches of the season so far. We have to believe that we will do well in them both. It was disappointing that our match against Peterborough was washed out on Friday. We now need to hope that we don’t lose any more fixtures to the weather. We need the points to finish in the top six before the cut-off date, but you can’t control the weather. It is frustrating, though.”
Monarchs will return from their travels to tackle Somerset in the return tie at Armadale on Friday.