The Parsons Peebles Monarchs extended their advantage at the top of the Championship table with a 49-44 victory over Sheffield, but it got extremely tight near the end and no-one is likely to begrudge Sheffield the point they earned.
Monarchs’ heat leader Ricky Wells said “We made a good start which has been kind of unusual for us recently, but it got tight in the end. The sun was very bright over the third bend which made it hard to see, and there was dirt on the track which we’ve been asking for, but it made some of the outside passes kind of scary!”
Monarchs looked fairly safe with a ten point advantage after ten heats, and even after guest Aaron Summers picked up 6 points from a TR ride in the next race. But a controversial heat 12 exclusion for Erik Riss after Lasse Bjerre had lost control and almost stopped in front of him, meant that heat ended as a 1-5. When Sheffield also took a 4-2 in heat 13, suddenly the Monarchs’ lead was cut to a single point!
Mark Riss had had a pretty disappointing evening up to that point but he took the rider replacement ride in heat 14, and rounded Tigers’ guest James Sarjeant on the opening turn to go ahead. Heroic reserve Max Clegg on his seventh outing of the evening flew round Sarjeant a lap later and completed the 5-1, and that just about ensured victory.
We finished with a good final heat in which both Sam Masters and Ricky Wells passed Aaron Summers, but Masters failed by half a wheel to peg back Kyle Howarth who again had a great meeting for Sheffield. That left the gap at 5 and so Sheffield took a point.
How would it have gone had Grajczonek, Bates and Josh Pickering all been in place? Well that is speculation but neither team will be too unhappy with the result, or with a good quality meeting.
In the early stages the Monarchs’ heat leaders all scored 8 from their first three rides, and with Max Clegg on song again and pulling off overtakes, notably on Lasse Bjerre for a heat 3 5-1, Monarchs seemed to be comfortable. In the end, it was a lot less so!
Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||2||3||X||2||10||0|
|2. Mark Riss||1||1*||2||0||3||7||1|
|3. Erik Riss||3||2||3||X||8||0|
|4. Josh Pickering r/r||0||0|
|5. Ricky Wells||3||3||2||2||1*||11||1|
|6. Max Clegg||3||2*||1*||1||1||1*||2*||11||4|
|7. Mitchell Davey||0||1||0||1||2||0|
Team Manager: Simon Stead
|1. Aaron Summers||2||3||6||1||0||12||0|
|2. Todd Kurtz||0||0||3||0||3||0|
|3. Lasse Bjerre||1||2||2||3||8||0|
|4. James Sarjeant||0||0||1*||1||2||1|
|5. Kyle Howarth||2||3||2||3||3||13||0|
|6. Rob Branford||2||0||1||2*||0||5||1|
|7. Ryan McDonald||1*||0||0||1||1|
This week the Parsons Peebles Monarchs face a team who are becoming a very familiar foe this season as we welcome the Sheffield Tigers to Armadale once again this time in SGB Championship action.
Of course we have already raced the Tigers both home and away already this season in the KO Cup (going down 96-84 on aggregate) and the Tigers showed their pedigree in the first leg of that tie racing out to a ten point league at Armadale before the home men clawed their way back into the match running out 47-43 winners.
The Tigers are rounding into form now after a slow start to the season meeting wise and while their away form has not matched up to their unbeaten home record with their only win being recorded at Scunthorpe we all saw how dangerous they could be back in April and tonight will be no different.
Another week another missing number 1 for a visitor as Josh Grajczonek is forced to ride for Somerset in the Premiership. A familiar face steps into the fold as Aaron Summers makes his 4th appearance of the season at the Dale. We all know how good Spud can be so this is very much a like for like swap and the home men will be looking to subdue the former Monarch like they did when he guested for Newcastle a couple of weeks ago.
A re-jig in the Tigers order sees Todd Kurtz ride at number 2. Kurtz will perhaps admit that Armadale is not his favourite circuit but did show on his last visit he can be lightning out the gate and be difficult to pass the Sheffield management team hoping that a move to number 2 will give the Aussie a boost to increase his away scoring.
Lasse Bjerre rides at number 3 for the Tigers and the diminutive Dane was seen as somewhat of a coup when the Tigers snapped him up on a low looking 6.64 average and this is proving to be the case as he currently sports a figure in excess of 8 points per match. A bit of an enigma around Armadale we have seen some tremendous efforts from Lasse including a top score of 12 but his efforts with Redcar last year were abysmal and left a lot of Bears fans fuming. Nobody would be surprised to see a return to the high scoring Bjerre of old tonight.
A second guest slots in at number 4 in the form of James Sarjeant. Stick with me here as Sarjeant takes the place of Coty Garcia who was due to take the place of Josh Bates. Bates is in Germany riding for team GB under 21’s (more on that match later) and Garcia was the victim of a horror looking smash at Redcar last night so the Workington man deputises. Another who has had his moments around our circuit Sarjeant is moving away from the jump starting reputation that has dogged him the last couple of years and now a solid performer he will no doubt cause us problems tonight.
Star of the show in the cup tie in April was Kyle Howarth. Having undoubtedly his finest season in the sport the 23 year old has really dedicated himself this year with a strict fitness regime and more investment than ever in his machinery and this is no doubt paying off as he currently sits on an average just shy of 9 points per match an excellent effort by the youngster and if he is gating and attacking the track this week in the same vein as he was in that last visit then our top men will have their work cut out to catch him.
Senior reserve for the Tigers and completing a hat-trick of ex-Monarchs in their line-up is Rob Branford. We all know that we would have loved to have Rob back at Armadale last year after his exploits in 2015 but unfortunately the numbers game fell against us (and Rob) and he was forced out. Now enjoying his best season in the sport and tie winner in the 2nd leg at Sheffield with 11 points Branford is one of the top reserves in the league and with his Armadale experience a big score is not out of the question in this match either.
A third change to the visitor’s line-up is at number 7 where Ryan MacDonald deputises for Jack Parkinson-Blackburn. Ryan can perhaps feel aggrieved with how his season has gone after gaining a place at Lakeside (and being willing to travel) he was then left out of the team after only a couple of matches. No doubt looking to put himself back in the shop window for National League promoters tonight MacDonald will be keen to impress.
That’s the visitors so what about our home heroes the Parsons Peebles Monarchs. Well after our best home performance of the season last week we will be looking to build on this and extend our lead at the top of the table. A victory tonight would see us build a 6 point margin (albeit with matches in hand for our nearest rivals) and perhaps more importantly we can stop Sheffield form gaining on the playoff pack.
We will have to do this minus Josh Pickering though who will be in Germany in the same meeting as Josh Bates representing Australia under 21’s in their world team cup semi final. Josh is looking forward to representing his country and we wish him and team Australia all the best (or am I meant to wish team GB the best??? Maybe that’s a question for another day.)
While under current rules a guest was permitted with Josh’s current average it was thought the Monarchs would be in a stronger position using r/r with Mark, Max and Mitchell eligible to take the extra outings.
Beyond that with new averages coming into place (as they do every 2 weeks now) this sees Sam and Ricky switch places with Sam going back to number 1 and no doubt he will be looking to match up to his performance of last week when he romped to an untroubled maximum.
So a hard one to call tonight as Sheffield perhaps surprised us with their performance in the cup, of course since then we appear to have gotten the track closer to the home rider’s liking and Max has seen an uptick in form however Sheffield will point to Bjerre’s absence in the first leg as a mitigating factor in their defeat so a tough and interesting tussle awaits. As always there is only one place to be so get yourself to Armadale tonight to cheer on the boys. See you there!
Friday 2nd June 2017, 9:45pm
The Parsons Peebles Monarchs defeated Sheffield by 49 to 44 at Armadale on Friday night.Max Clegg got 11 for the Home side and Kyle Howarth 13 for the visitors.
Wednesday 31st May 2017, 1:03pm
The Sheffield Tigers come to Armadale this Friday in SGB Championship action looking to build on an excellent display at Armadale earlier in the season.