A BRILLIANT captain’s ride by Matthew Wethers in the final heat at Somerset Rebels last night earned Edinburgh Monarchs their second Premier League away point in five days despite losing 48-42 to the home side, prompting co-promoter John Campbell to predict: “I think we are coming into a bit form now.”
Monarchs led the match 28-26 after nine races, but it was short-lived as the Rebels won 4-2 in heat ten before turning the screw with a brace of 5-1 advantages to take charge 40-32 with just three heats left.
When the Rebels widened that gap to ten points in the penultimate race, Monarchs required a 5-1 in the top-scorers’ finale to grab a point. It was a big ask, but Wethers and teammate Craig Cook came up trumps.
The Monarchs duo were opposed by Rebels pair Jesper Monberg and James Wright. Cook got off to a quick start and took the chequered flag, leaving Wethers to pass Monberg on the first lap before reeling in Wright on the next to grab the vital second place, which stunned the Rebels, who must have believed they had all three home points in the bag.
Somerset is one of Wethers’ favourite tracks. The Aussie always does well there, but he said: “Everybody always tells me how much I like Somerset, but I wish they wouldn’t because it puts pressure on me to ride well. But I guess my second place in the last heat does suggest this might be the case.”
Cook won four of his five starts, his only setback coming in heat 11 when he finished third behind Monberg and Kyle Newman. It was an undoubted blow for the Monarchs No. 1 and came at a time when the Capital outfit were in the ascendancy.
Cook said: “The track was very hard to read and I thought the inside line was the best way to go in that race, but Newman passed me round the outside. But I think this was the best the team have ridden away from home so far this season.
“Everybody weighed in with something and we fully deserved our point.”
Jozsef Tabaka shone at reserve, scoring eight points, and combined with Derek Sneddon for a commendable 5-1 against Alex Davies in the eighth race. Tabaka had to graft for his score due to his slow gating, otherwise he could easily have raced into double figures.
Campbell thought Monarchs could have taken the Rebels down to the wire. “Halfway through, I thought we would run them a lot closer”, he said,”But we did so well at the finish and Matthew was simply brilliant in the last heat to take second place which clinched the point for us.
“I think we are coming into a bit of form now, and having a reserve like Jozsef who can score a few points, helps us enormously. We had Somerset on the run at one stage.
“Jozsef was in contention and was challenging for position in all of his races, it was just a pity he couldn’t put five starts together. Had he done so, he might easily have scored a maximum.
“But team spirit in the camp is really high and everybody did their bit. We definitely have some momentum right now.”
Monarchs head for Sheffield Tigers at Owlerton, and Campbell added: “How we do will come down to how well Jozsef rides. If he does better than at Somerset, we have a chance and could run Sheffield very close.”
Somerset’s best performer was Monberg who picked up 10 points, but Newman’s eight-point effort at the tail end also proved quite decisive.