Monarchs’ play-off hopes dented after defeat by Berwick

Monarchs found life tough away at Berwick. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Monarchs found life tough away at Berwick. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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A dominant Berwick Bandits brushed Edinburgh Monarchs aside 51-39 in their Championship League speedway clash at Shielfield Park.

Saturday’s defeat piles the pressure on the Capital side to pick up one more away win to help cement their end of season play-off spot, assuming they don’t lose at home.

As ever at Berwick, it is all down to who gates the quickest and once again Monarchs were given a lesson in how it should be done by the Bandits, who steamrollered Monarchs into submission from the tapes.

Monarchs’ second-string star Josh Pickering, who scored three points on what proved a tough evening for him, said: “It was pretty hard going because Berwick’s team is full of track specialists and it didn’t help that I personally had some engine issues.

“I think my motor needs a visit to the doctors, I’ve pushed it a bit too hard!

“Berwick are so good from the gate, once they get to that first bend they’re gone. They are a really solid outfit.

Pickering added: “Berwick’s reserves outscored ours by 20 points to one, and we need to do something about that.”

Monarchs’ team manager Alex Harkess said: “We always knew it was going to be a difficult match for us and so it proved. We had hoped to pick up a match point but it wasn’t to be.

“There was virtually no passing during the match. Richie Worrall, to his credit, managed to pass twice, but that was it.

“You have simply got to get to that first bend in front and explains why Berwick are so strong round their own track.”

Monarchs made a promising start with a 5-1 from Ricky Wells and Victor Palovaara in the opening race. That was Monarchs’ last heat advantage until heat 13 when Wells and captain Erik Riss defeated Aaron Summers and Kevin Doolan for a second 5-1.

Monarchs also gained a third heat win in the last race with a further 5-1 verdict from Wells and Worrall, but it was a token outcome only.

The Bandits replied to Monarchs’ first heat maximum advantage with one of their own in the second race and this very much set the tone for the remainder of the meeting.

The Bandits led 23-13 after six races before the next four heats were all shared. A brace of 5-1s for the Bandits in heats 11 and 12 easily pushed them over the winning line and keeps alive their play-off aspirations, but they too need to pick up something on the road from their remaining away matches to make qualification a reality.

Wells and Worrall both hit double figures for Monarchs, but it was at the tail end where Monarchs took a real battering.

Berwick: Pijper 11, Jakobsen 9, Etheridge 8, Summers 7, Doolan 6, Gappmaier 6, Howe 5.

Monarchs: Wells 11, Worrall 11, Riss 7, Palovaara 6, Pickering 3, Andersson 1, Clegg 0.