King's Lynn Stars
|1. Kevin Doolan||3||3||1||3||3||13||0|
|2. Chris Mills||2*||0||0||2||1|
|3. Tomas Topinka||3||3||3||3||3||2*||17||1|
|4. Simon Lambert||2*||0||0||X||2||1|
|5. Rusty Harrison r/r||0||0|
|6. John Oliver||1||1||3||R||2||2*||1||10||1|
|7. Kozza Smith||3||2||2*||0||1||0||0|
|1. William Lawson||1||1*||1||1||0||4||1|
|2. Thomas H Jonasson r/r||0||0|
|3. Ryan Fisher||X||2||X||2||0|
|4. Andrew Tully||1||2||0||3||2*||8||1|
|5. Matthew Wethers||0||3||1||2||F||1||7||1|
|6. James Brundle||2||2||1*||2*||0||7||2|
|7. Aaron Summers||0||1||1||3||2||3||10||0|
With another remarkable battle against the odds, the 2008 Scotwaste Monarchs grabbed another trophy as they emerged the winners of the Premier Playoffs 2008.
This entitles them to take on Wolverhampton, though Monarchs would dearly love to do that with all riders fit ? ie Thomas Jonasson and Derek Sneddon lining up in their places.
That wasn?t the case at King?s Lynn of course, where the Stars have their own injury problems. There was a very good crowd in the Norfolk Arena for the second leg of the Premier Playoffs to watch a match which was remarkably similar to our recent ones at Somerset and Glasgow.
As in these successful encounters, we looked down and out for the first 8 heats or so before coming back strongly to take either aggregate or on-the-day successes.
There was always been someone pulling out that little bit extra. This time it was Aaron Summers who tallied paid 28 over the two legs, a superb effort, and who brilliantly won two late heats to ensure that we won the tie.
Our success was all the more remarkable considering that William Lawson at no. 1 only managed to head one home rider other than non-finishers, and Ryan Fisher had two exclusions in the three races he managed.
But this team does not exclusively depend on their numbers one and three, who were outscored 30 to 6 by their opposite numbers.
The start was ominous. Heat 1 was an easy home 5-1, heat 2 was a 4-2 with our very satisfactory guest James Brundle splitting the home reserves. Aaron was a long way back in this race which did not augur well.
At the first attempt at heat 3, Topinka came down on the outside. He stayed down, and for some reason referee Gay did not stop it and one lap was completed before the red lights went on, and all four back announced. For obvious reasons this is unsatisfactory refereeing.
The next running was exciting while it lasted. Ryan raced ahead of Topinka who was on the very poor gate 4, and Andrew was also throwing in a great challenge on the home star. They diced for a bit with Topinka pushed back to third at times, but eventually the Czech got himself in front.
Fisher tried to barge back through on the inside at the start of lap three, but he bumped Topinka and brought him down. The race was rerun again and this time Andrew made a poor start and conceded a 5-1.
At 14-4 things weren?t looking good, just 7 up on aggregate, but Matthew won heat 4 from Smith with a much better effort from Aaron, beating Mills for the point.
The track which was expected to be grippy was not really that, and few riders did much passing during the evening though there was often interest in the racing.
Topinka won heat 5 though Tully chased impressively, and we had a stroke of luck when Lambert stopped to gift William Lawson a point. William was still looking a long way away from his best form.
Brundle and Wethers shared heat 6 behind Doolan and we were starting to look a bit stuffier, though with some hard work up ahead.
Topinka and Oliver gated in heat 7 but Fisher worked hard to squeeze past the home reserve.
Ryan then took the rider replacement in heat 8, though he was off the dreaded gate 4. Sure enough he didn?t make the start, but chased hard on Oliver and Smith. He closed in on Smith but came down entering the third turn on lap three after appearing to clash with Smith who had moved out fairly dramatically.
Ryan took a hard knock against the fence, and eventually was withdrawn from the match with shoulder and hip injuries.
The decision went the home side?s way and we were now 31-17 down, just 3 up on aggregate, and with the TR gone. Surely this time we were taking on too much?.
Wethers and Brundle again packed the minor places in heat 9 behind Topinka. We thought we would share heat 10 too after Oliver packed up at the back ? but we did better than that as Doolan also slowed, apparently running out of fuel! A 5-1 out of the blue, and that certainly made a difference.
We then saw the best of Aaron Summers who led all the way in heat 11. William made a better start off gate 1 and managed to pick up a point ahead of Smith, who fell at the back.
Now we were 8 down on the night and 9 up on aggregate, and chances had very much improved! Still much to be done.
Aaron took a second in heat 12, between Topinka and Smith, with this time Brundle running out of steam.
Oliver came in to heat 13 to partner Doolan, and home hopes were raised again as they took a 5-1. Wethers was on the outside gate but made a great effort, only to fall on the final lap.
So we were 14 down again, 3 up on aggregate with the last heat a very likely home 5-1. So we needed an advantage from heat 14 to go through.
This was Lambert (not replaced by Smith, perhaps surprisingly) and Oliver against Summers and Tully.
Again Aaron made a great gate and led the way but on lap one Andrew was at the back. Just as they entered lap two, Lambert suddenly reared dramatically and flew off his machine, which bucked wildly high into the air before crashing down on the track side of the fence.
It was an alarming incident at a vital stage, and thankfully there was no great damage done.
After a lengthy delay the riders emerged for the rerun. If Oliver could take his second chance and win, then we were probably out.
He did gate well but Aaron pulled up alongside and ahead of him, with Andrew also battling up the inside. It was very tight for a couple of laps with Oliver looking threatening, but eventually our pair got the upper hand. On the last lap, Oliver slid off and remounted as our pair rode home to clinch the Premier Playoffs.
A fantastic effort, and the final heat 5-1 was irrelevant as many home supporters drifted away.