Edinburgh Monarchs have given themselves a fighting chance of progressing to the KO Cup semi-finals after a convincing 57-33 first leg quarter-final victory over Berwick Bandits at Armadale tonight in what was a real seven-man team performance.
Monarchs strived for an early advantage but after four races were only 13-11 up and that was thanks in part to a tremendous ride from Joel Andersson who pipped Theo Pijper to third place in that fourth heat after team-mate and captain Erik Riss won the race convincingly.
But Monarchs raced into a four-point lead in heat six when new signing Victor Palovaara won his first race for the club and, with Ricky Wells following the Swede home, this 5-1 advantage gave Monarchs a handy 20-16 advantage.
And a 3-3 in the seventh race, won by Bandits racer David Howe, kept the visitors four points in arrears. At the halfway mark Monarchs maintained that lead with heat eight also shared and won in great style by Monarchs ace Andersson.
And Monarchs doubled their lead with a great 5-1 from Josh Pickering and Mark Riss in the ninth race. It was Monarchs’ second 5-1 of the match and they now led convincingly 31-23.
A 4-2 from Wells and Palovaara in heat 10 saw Monarchs pull ten points clear 35-25 and heading in the right direction. For once all the Monarchs were chipping in with points and what a difference this made.
The 11th race was shared, Aaron Summers winning his second heat of the night for Bandits who were starting to flag a little.
A belter of a race in heat 12 race saw Monarchs duo Andersson and Pickering grab a third 5-1 for the team and they now led 43-19. It was Andersson’s second race win on the trot and what a priceless victory it could turn out to be.
Monarchs’ fourth 5-1 of the match from Wells and Erik Riss in heat 13 pushed them further ahead, 48-30, and on course for the big lead that Wells had hoped for.
And a 4-2 for Monarchs in heat 14 gave them a lead of 52-32, too easy!
Monarchs were in 5-1 heaven in the final race when Erik Riss and Wells delivered their fifth maximum verdict for a 24-point victory overall.
The second leg is at Berwick tomorrow.
Palovaara made a promising Monarchs debut riding borrowed equipment and scoring five points which included one race win. He said: “I feel pretty good but a bit rusty. I should improve when I’m on my own machinery which arrives next week.”
Wells, who romped to a 14-point paid maximum added: “We got the large lead we wanted and more. If we throw this away at Berwick we don’t deserve to reach the last four.”
Monarchs: Wells 14, E Riss 11, Pickering 9, Andersson 9, Palovaara 5, M Riss 5, Ruml 4.
Berwick: Summers 7, Howe 7, Pijper 6, Etheridge 5, Jakobsen 4, Doolan 4, Gappmaier 0.