Workington Comets pulled off a shock 46-44 victory over Edinburgh Monarchs in their Championship Shield match at Armadale tonight.
However, Monarchs supporters, while lamenting the home loss, took comfort in the fact that Workington march through to the semi-finals of the tournament at the expense of Glasgow Tigers who lost top spot of the Borders Group to the rampant Comets right at the death.
It was a poor display by Monarchs who still have a few questions to answer on their overall performances. Tougher teams than Workington have still to visit the Lothian Arena and that’s the big concern.
Monarchs No.1 Ricky Wells continues to lead from the front and gave the home side a promising start in the opening heat by beating Comets’ Rene Bach quite comfortably, and with team-mate Joel Andersson picking up a vital point in third place, this 4-2 advantage was exactly the springboard Monarchs had hoped for.
They repeated the trick in the next heat when Coty Garcia, who has been signed for the remainder of the season, led from the tapes. Monarchs were in a 5-1 position to begin with but Workington’s Mason Campton clawed his way past Josh Pickering for second place, forcing the Aussie to settle for a point instead. Still, Monarchs led 8-4 after just two races.
With no fixture last week Monarchs’ American star Max Ruml returned home and all eyes were on the Californian to see if the vacation had sharpened him up any because he has been struggling to make an impact so far.
Unfortunately he was excluded for going through the tapes in his first ride and was replaced by Garcia. Not encouraging.
However, Monarchs made it a triple whammy of 4-2s in heat three when Mark Riss had a tremendous battle with Dan Bewley before prevailing to take the chequered flag, and with Garcia again snatching a point, Monarchs led 12-6.
The fourth race threw up something of a shock when Monarchs skipper Erik Riss was beaten by Workington reserve Campton, but with Pickering following Riss home a share of the spoils ensued and Monarchs retained their six-point lead.
But the match took on a different complexion in heat five when Comets pair Bach and Rasmus Jensen made mincemeat of Mark Riss and Ruml for a timely 5-1 and instantly reduced the lead to just two points, 16-14.
And Monarchs were under pressure in the next race when Nicolai Klindt easily beat Wells and Andersson, but Kyle Bickley offered no support to Klindt and Monarchs luckily escaped with a 3-3.
Erik Riss got back on the winning trail in heat seven but Workington’s Bewley and Ty Proctor lay between him and Garcia so Monarchs had to settle for another drawn race and they were now feeling the heat under the evening sun.
Heat 10 was also shared and Monarchs were hanging on by their fingertips now. And Comets levelled the meeting with a 4-2 in the next race, Klindt holding out Mark Riss.
Ditto heat 11 and the match was on a knife edge which very much suited the Comets.
Monarchs finally edged in front again with a 4-2 from Erik Riss and Wells in heat 13. Monarchs now led 40-38 but the match was far from over.
And the Comets had the winning line in their sights when they romped to their second 5-1 of the night, Bewley and Campton easily beating Mark Riss and Coty Garcia. Comets now led 43-41 and they just needed a 3-3 in heat 15 to secure victory and top the Border qualifying group.
And it was Klindt who was the hero for the Comets as he romped to victory against Erik Riss and Wells to take the Comets through to the semi-finals of the competition. It was fully deserved.
Comets star Bewley, who once rode for Monarchs, said: “It was great to be back at Armadale, I still love the place.
“It was a great team display and I’m delighted with my nine-point score.
His team-mate Mason Campton said: “We started off slowly but got stronger as the match went on. It was a great result for the whole side and we are all delighted to be through to the semi-finals.”
Monarchs: E Riss 13, Wells 10, M Riss 7, Garcia 4, Pickering 4, Andersson 4, Ruml 2.
Workington: Klindt 11, Bewley 9, Campton 8, Jensen 7, Bach 6, Proctor 5, Bickley 0.