Monarchs reach end of road as Bandits take victory

Erik Riss and William Lawson (blue) get away from David Howe and Aaron Summers in heat 11. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Erik Riss and William Lawson (blue) get away from David Howe and Aaron Summers in heat 11. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Berwick Bandits mugged Edinburgh Monarchs in their Championship League clash at Armadale tonight and ended any chance Monarchs harboured of making the speedway play-offs.

Berwick won 48-42. It was an uninspiring display from Monarchs who couldn’t get going in the heavy track conditions.

But in reality it is Monarchs’ away form that has come back to haunt them. And those occasions when they were four points up with one race to go and still failed to win the match will ultimately be judged to have thwarted their play-off ambitions.The wet conditions robbed Monarchs of their usual track advantage and they had to settle for a 3-3 in the opening race which was won by Bandits star Aaron Summers But the Bandits nicked a lead in the second race with a 4-2 from Theo Pijper and Dany Gappmaier over Monarchs pair William Lawson and guest rider Gino Manzares.

Berwick were adapting to the conditions better than Monarchs and Kevin Doolan and Jye Etheridge grabbed a 5-1 in heat three over Josh Pickering and Richie Worrall for a 12-6 lead. And Berwick stretched further in front with another 4-2 in the fourth. Monarchs clearly didn’t fancy the greasy track surface and were toiling to make an impact.

Worrall failed to make the start for the fifth heat and was replaced by Manzares. The race was awarded, Summers taking first place and team-mate David Howe finishing second; it was a further 5-1 to the rampant Bandits who now led 21-9.

Berwick were revelling in the mud and grabbed a share of the spoils in the sixth race to maintain their 12-point advantage as Monarchs were yet to provide a race winner.

And the Bandits moved even further in front with a second 5-1 from Etheridge and Doolan in heat seven. The Bandits even at this stage looked unstoppable and the lack of fight and purpose from the Monarchs team was quite alarming. The Bandits had provided all seven of the race winners so far and frankly some of the Monarchs did not look interested.

Another shared heat followed in the eighth race, but that suited Berwick down to the ground, even although Victor Palovaara provided Monarchs with their first race winner of the evening.

Monarchs trailed 32-16 and it was going to be a long way back now for them to preserve their unbeaten home league record. Worrall won heat nine for Monarchs but Berwick kept Josh Pickering at the back for another 3-3. At last Monarchs earned their first heat advantage of the meeting in the tenth race with a 4-2 from Ricky Wells and Palovaara, this reduced their arrears to 37-23 but it was looking too little too late.

Monarchs collected their first 5-1 of the night from skipper Erik Riss and William Lawson in heat 11 reducing Berwick’s lead to 38-28.

Worrall came out as tactical substitute in the next race to try and claw Monarchs back into the match but ex-Monarch Pijper won the race for the Bandits, Worrall finished third behind partner Pickering. and another 3-3 was in the Bandits favour again.

A 5-1 from Riss and Wells in heat 13 reduced arrears to just six points now 42-36 and the fightback was on.

The penultimate race was won by Worrall but the resultant 3-3 meant Berwick could not be overhauled in terms of winning the match. A final 3-3, the race won by Wells, simply sealed the victory for Berwick. Former Monarch Theo Pijper was their top scorer with 13 points and was instrumental in Berwick’s triumph.

Riss said: “We didn’t get going as a team tonight and it’s unfortunate to go out of the play-offs in such a manner. The track was difficult and Berwick rode it better than we did.”

Monarchs: Wells 11, Palovaara 7, Worrall 7, Riss 6, Lawson 5, Pickering 4, Manzares 2.

Berwick: Pijper 13, Jacobsen 10, Doolan 8, Summers 6, Howe 5, Etheridge 5, Gappmaier 1.