Edinburgh MONARCHS speedway boss John Campbell today lauded Craig Cook for his “magnificent” performance at Rye House Rockets as the Englishman helped steer the Capital outfit into the Premier League Knockout Cup quarter-finals with surprising ease.
Defending a hefty 28-point first leg lead gained at Armadale on Friday, Monarchs restricted the Rockets to a narrow 49-41 second leg win but cruised through 100-80 on aggregate with an all round scoring display which finally embodied the vision Campbell had laid out for his squad this season.
Monarchs clinched their passage into the last eight with four races to spare and Campbel was quick to pay tribute to Cook who dropped just one point from five rides when he was headed by Rockets top scorer Jordan Frampton in the final heat.
“Craig was magnificent”, said Campbell. “It was just a shame he didn’t come through to win heat 15 and get his maximum. Before that he was unstoppable. Whether it was from the gate or fighting from behind, he was unbelievable.”
Cook, who set the fastest time of the season by winning the opening heat, the first of his four race victories, admitted things were tense at the start of the meeting.
“We certainly could not relax because Rye House were quite capable of pulling back their big deficit,” he said. “We took no chances and simply went out and gave it our all. We all chipped in with something, happy days.”
If the Monarchs No. 1 was crestfallen about missing out on his five-ride full house, he didn’t betray any disappointment, explaining: “I picked up a bit of grip from the gate and this shot me past where I wanted to be and unfortunately Jordan and Luke Bowen passed me. I managed to overtake Luke but couldn’t catch Jordan who had at least two bike lengths on me and it was very hard to get near him. I’ve scored 28 points over both legs and can’t complain about that. I’m focused, though I’m not doing anything greatly different compared to last season. I just want to win a lot more, my bikes are singing and everything is working well for me and I’m enjoying myself at this minute.”
Despite their substantial home tie advantage, Campbell revealed he was far from relaxed as the deciding leg got under way, saying: “Although we were never under any threat, I was still counting down the heats, working out what we needed to do make the overall contest safe, but in the end it was very straightforward for us. Rye House did not score as they had hoped and that’s because we rode so well.”
Campbell was also pleased with his reserve duo Charles Wright and Micky Dyer, who picked up three and two points respectively, and this is exactly what the pair have been tasked to do this year.
Campbell said: “I told Charles how important it was to score three or four points and Micky did so well on a track he hadn’t seen before in his life, and that was exactly the kind of contribution we need because our squad is fairly powerful above the reserve slots at the right kind of tracks.”
Dyer was desperately unlucky not to have scored possibly more when he was unfairly excluded in heat two. Rye House tail-ender Jason Garrity locked up on the second turn of the second lap, giving the Monarchs youngster nowhere to go.
Campbell added: “The referee got the decision wrong and should have disqualified Garrity.”
Rye House certainly can have no complaints about their exit from the cup, especially as their Danish star performer Charlie Gjedde was posted missing over the two matches, and the Rye House management will also be concerned that Garrity didn’t cover himself in glory either.
Monarchs will face Glasgow Tigers in the quarter finals after the Ashfield men overcame a fourteen point deficit to defeat Plymouth Devils on aggregate yesterday.
Rye House: Frampton 13, Bowen 12, Hawkins 8, Bunyan 6, Mellgren 4, Gjedde 4, Garrity 2.
Monarchs: Cook 14, Wethers 7, Tully 7, Pijper 6, Wright 3, Sneddon 2, Dyer 2.