Glasgow Tigers took control of the Championship Shield Borders qualifying group with a narrow victory over Edinburgh Monarchs at Armadale Stadium tonight.
In a meeting dominated by falling riders, Tigers won 48-41.
And they now look hot favourites to win the return leg at Ashfield Stadium on Sunday afternoon unless Monarchs pull something special out of the hat. But they will have to improve greatly on this display.
The Tigers didn’t get off to the best of starts in the opening heat when Lewis Kerr took a tumble on the second bend and was disqualified, leaving partner Richie Worrall to face Monarchs pairing Ricky Wells and Max Ruml on his own. This set a pattern for the opening heats. But Worrall held his nerve to win the race comfortably for a share of the spoils, Wells some way behind.
Well said: “We have had a few wet days of late but the sunshine we saw tonight was most welcome and the track was very good. It was pretty technical but that’s how we all like it.”
And the Tigers ran out of luck in the heat two reserves race when Jack Thomas hit the deck for a second time and the race was awarded, Monarchs picking up a 4-2 courtesy of Josh Pickering and Matt Williamson to snatch an early 7-5 lead.
Glasgow’s Paul Starke was judged to have brought Mark Riss down in the third race and was disqualified but Monarchs failed to cash in on their numerical advantage as Tigers and former Monarch Claus Vissing romped home with plenty to spare for another 3-3.
It was Monarchs’ turn to have a touch of misfortune in the fourth race when Pickering, who won his first ride, took a tumble and was disqualified. Skipper Erik Riss kept his cool to lead home Tigers captain Chris Harris and James Sarjeant for another share of the spoils as Monarchs consolidated their two-point lead.
Harris said: “We had some problems in the early heats but we battled away and it turned out to be a good meeting.”
The Tigers levelled the scores in the next when Worrall and Kerr outflanked Mark Riss and Joel Andersson for a 4-2 which could have been a 5-1 but the Tigers duo slipped up and allowed Riss through to split them.
Harris took the chequered flag in the sixth race over Wells to keep the scores all tied up.
Erik Riss then flew out of the traps for his second win of the meeting in heat seven for yet another 3-3. Riss was flying and defeated Starke convincingly.
But the Tigers struck back again at the halfway stage with a 4-2 from Kerr and Sarjeant to take a lead for the first time in the match, 25-23. Pickering fought hard for Monarchs but could not overcome Sarjeant for that vital third place.
Andersson suffered a fall for Monarchs in heat nine leaving the home side one man short in the rerun, and that proved a disaster for the home side when Mark Riss then took a tumble leaving the Tigers pairing of Harris and Sarjeant to cruise round for a huge 5-0 advantage to lead 30-23.
The Tigers now had the scent of victory in their nostrils.
Fallers aplenty followed and in the tenth race Starke laid down his bike to avoid his Tigers team-mate Vissing who came down and was disqualified. Monarchs capitalised with a brilliant 4-2 from Wells and Ruml which cut Tigers’ lead to five points, 32-27.
Erik Riss won his third race of the meeting for a 3-3 in heat 11 to keep the arrears to five points.
In heat 13 Erik Riss ploughed into the safety fence and was disqualified, the race was awarded a 4-2 in Tigers favour who now led 42-35 with just two heats remaining.
Wells came in as a tactical substitute in the penultimate race but couldn’t stop Tigers ace Vissing winning the race which clinched the match for the Asfield team.
In the final race Tigers finished off in style with Worrall, who was Tigers’ top scorer, defeating Erik Riss.
Worrall said: “It was a tight meeting but we got there in the end it was a good result for us.”
Monarchs: E Riss 11, Wells 10, Ruml 6, M Riss 6, Pickering 6, Andersson 1, Wiliamson 1.
Glasgow: Worrall 13, Vissing 8, Harris 8, Sarjeant 7, Kerr 6, Starke 6.Thomas 0.