Josh won heat 8 to start the fightback Image Credit: Ron MacNeill

Fightback to win

NEWS Saturday 29th April 2017, 2:01am

by Mike Hunter

The Parsons Peebles Monarchs were ten points down after seven heats tonight, as Sheffield made a storming start to the KO Cup tie first leg, but the home team fought back to win by four points.

Of course it is not the lead we were looking for to take to the second leg, but both sides know that this tie is still up for grabs. For the moment, the Yorkshire side will be the happier.

For that they will be thanking Kyle Howarth who gave a superb display, one of the best we’ve seen from a visitor for a long time. During Kyle’s time in the Monarchs’ team or subsequently, he has never shown this kind of speed and assurance round Armadale.

Monarchs’ captain Sam Masters said “I’d like to think four points might be enough! They’ve given us a hard match so there’s no reason why we can’t go down there and do the same to them. We’ve won at Sheffield in the past. I didn’t think we were making bad starts but Kyle and Richard were just making better ones!”

Richard Lawson was an excellent guest for Josh Grajczonek, and with Josh Bates also going well in the early stages the Tigers must have been amazed how they were able to dominate the first seven races. Rob Branford won heat 2 and Jack Parkinson-Blackburn took a couple of useful points to make life very difficult for the home side.

There was a contentious point when Josh Pickering passed Rob Branford on the final bend of heat 6 after a race-long chase, and the video suggests that Josh got the point by half a wheel – however the ref gave it the other way. But that’s a detail, and at heat 7 we were trailing 16-26 (and remember no TRs in the KO Cup).

That’s when the tide started to turn. While we have Mark Riss at reserve, clearly he is a strong card to play, and he partnered Josh Pickering to a 5-1. Our young Aussie pulled off one of his big outside runs on the first turn.

Mark Riss was in again for heat 9 to partner his brother but they could only share it behind the flying Howarth. So we were still six down, but Pickering was again a key player in heat 10 when Sam Masters won easily, but Josh battled past first Branford then Todd Kurtz for another 5-1 to put Monarchs just two behind.

Ricky Wells was away quicky (a flier?) in heat 11 to head Lawson and Bates, then the Riss Brothers gave us the lead for the first time with a heat 12 5-1.

Having got our noses in front the next step of course was to build a lead – but that didn’t prove so easy! Howarth again was brilliant in winning heat 13, while the previously unbeaten Sam Masters lost position trying to impose himself on the first corner situation and finished at the back. 39-39!

Max Clegg hadn’t scored in two races but he made a good start to back Mark Riss to a 5-1 in heat 14. Could we build on a 4-point lead in the final race?

No! Everyone was jumpy at the start and Kyle Howarth was unlucky to be the one whose wheel caught the tape (Masters and Wells moved at the same instant). So Kyle went off 15 metres but it was Richard Lawson who moved sharply from gate one to lead all the way. A 47-43 win, much less than we initially hoped for but better than seemed likely at the midway point!