Having seen off the Workington Comets in some style last week, the big question is if Edinburgh Monarchs can sustain that form or whether it was merely a one-off response to the criticism they attracted for losing at home to Redcar Bears seven days earlier.
Heat leader Craig Cook is in no doubt the transformation will be permanent, pointing out that, with Monarchs’ top five at last combining to blast the powerful Comets into submission, the Capital outfit at last overcame the problem of fragmented scoring which has blighted them all season.
As he prepares to face Glasgow Tigers in tonight’s League Cup derby at Armadale, Cook said: “We really needed that victory against Workington after losing to Redcar which should never have happened.
“We are a better team than Redcar and should never have lost at home. To pick things up and win against such a classy side as Workington, who are hotly tipped to win the league, was a brilliant boost for the team, the management and our fans.
“There was expectancy on us to beat Workington because a couple of our guys had not performed against Redcar, though I have been performing above par. Matty (Wethers) has been struggling but he delivered the goods against Workington and showed everybody what he is capable of.
“He seems to be firing now and this should take the pressure off the reserves, especially Micky Dyer who is finding it tough. Micky is a talented young rider who will come good, he just needs time.”
There was praise aplenty for the racing surface prepared for the visit of Workington and this was reflected in a top-drawer match which had a bountiful surfeit of passing and re-passing.
But Cook said: “The track didn’t really suit me, I preferred it the way it was at the start of the season, but it suited everybody else and I’m happy for it to be like that every week. It’s what’s best for the whole team, not individual preference. I like the dirt to be a bit drier, I don’t like it too tacky at the corners. And although I toiled a wee bit, I need to adapt to it, it’s about making everybody happy.”
Cook scored eleven points against the Comets, which has been in line with his double figure returns so far, and he admits he is a more settled rider now than he was twelve months ago. “I’ve got the time to do my own stuff now,” he said.
“I don’t have to worry about the Elite League, I’m not doubling up this year. What is important is that I establish myself as a number one in the Premier League and concentrate on the Elite League in 2013.
“I deliberately took a step back from the Elite League this year, but if I achieve my aim of being a top rider at Premier level, the Elite League will follow.”
He may have liked more than the two wins he grabbed against the Comets, but Cook is not beating himself up over it, saying: “To be honest I did not make any decent starts and got my points from the back, where I made some brilliant passes.
“That made a change for me and shows I can come through from the back if I need to, but it’s still a lot easier if you make the gate.”
Glasgow have also enjoyed a less than dynamic League Cup campaign but they too were lifted with a decent 54-39 victory against Sheffield Tigers on Sunday, and Cook says the Ashfield squad must be given respect.
“They have a strong heat leader trio, but our top five is completely solid and if we perform to our ability I think we are all capable of scoring eight points in every match, and if we do that, the heat is not on the reserves, who can do what they want.
“We are looking to beat Glasgow by a decent margin home and away this weekend. We have come good now and nobody should judge us on what they’ve seen so far.
“Because it’s not as easy as everybody thinks, you have got think about adjustments to your bike and also track conditions, so many things can go wrong, but I’m clear minded and think we’ll clinch the win against Glasgow.”
Monarchs may need to watch out for Tigers’ Aussie reserve Mason Campton, who picked up a paid maximum against Sheffield in only his first month of racing in the UK.