Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Ricky Wells||1*||2||3||2*||3||11||2|
|2. Victor Palovaara||2||1*||3||1||7||1|
|3. Josh Pickering||1||1||R||2||4||0|
|4. Richie Worrall||F||3||1*||3||7||1|
|5. Erik Riss||0||1||2*||3||0||6||1|
|6. William Lawson||2||0||3||0||5||0|
|7. Gino Manzares||0||2||FD||F||2||0|
Team Manager: Scott Courtney
|1. Aaron Summers||3||3||0||0||6||0|
|2. David Howe||R||2*||2||1||5||1|
|3. Jye Etheridge||2*||3||0||5||1|
|4. Kevin Doolan||3||2*||2||1*||8||2|
|5. Nikolai Busk Jacobsen||3||3||2||1||1*||10||1|
|6. Dany Gappmaier||1||0||0||1||0|
|7. Theo Pijper||3||1||1*||1*||3||2||2||13||2|
The Playoff hopes of the Staggs Bar Monarchs were resoundingly extinguished tonight by a committed and determined Berwick team who provided the first seven race winners and led by an extraordinary 35-19 after 9 heats, with the result virtually decided at that point.
Thereafter the Monarchs got themselves roused and fought back hard, eventually going down 42-48 which meant that the Bandits took just 3 points in what was Monarchs first home league loss of the season.
Alex Harkess said "We're disappointed of course. We just didn't adapt quickly enough to the different conditions. We improved a lot in the second half of the match but it was too late. I hope now the other results this weekend mean that we wouldn't have got through even if we'd won!"
Bandits have every reason to be delighted while Monarchs will have to consider how they got so far behind. The absence of Joel Andersson was obviously a factor (though the efforts of guest replacement Gino Manzares were much appreciated), but in truth the main memory of the evening should be the incredible efforts of the track staff to ensure that the meeting went ahead at all.
There was so much rain during the day that the match could well have been called off early. After their sterling efforts to clear things up, they were then hit by another heavy downpour at about 7pm. Undaunted they kept going and after it had been announced that there would be a delay, the fixture eventually got under way at 8:10pm. Both teams and the small band of workers appreciated the importance of the occasion and wanted the match to go ahead, and it did.
Incredibly it was completed by 9:25, a time which would be regarded as an early finish at many tracks even starting at the normal 7:30! Conditions of course were difficult and yet during the evening there was some acceptable racing with an outstanding heat 13, one of two late home 5-1s which allowed a little bit of hope that Monarchs might snatch something from the match.
It wasn't to be. And the damage was really done over that extraordinary opening spell when Berwick riders made every start. They were committed and determined and simply ignored the conditions. Gate 4 was the most productive and over these first seven heats the only home men who had gate 4 were the reserves – Richie Worrall should have had one but after falling first time out, he had a 2-minute exclusion in his gate 4 ride.
By heat 7 with the score at 13-29 everyone was assuming Berwick had won already. Victor Palovaara (gate 4) in heat 8 was our first race winner and amazingly we took 7 of the last 8 chequered flags. The best race in the early heats was heat 6 in which Busk Jakobsen passed Ricky wells and held off his strong challenge.
Even with the race winners in heats 8 and 9 we only shared the heats, but we then took a heat 10 4-2 followed by a 5-1 when William Lawson gated and was well protected by Erik Riss. Theo Pijper then took the only visiting race win in the second half of the fixture in heat 12 in spite of a strong challenge by Josh Pickering, who had struggled badly in his earlier heats.
Heat 13 was an outstanding heat, Erik Riss (gate 4) leading from the gate and Ricky Wells eventually squeezing past Jakobsen for the 5-1 after a very tight race. Richie Worrall won heat 14 but Pijper and Doolan squeezed out William Lawson to ensure the win for their team.
Ricky Wells won the final heat after a wide sweep of the opening bends, so Berwick fell just short of the margin required for that fourth point. Congratulations to them for a fine performance, and to the track staff for theirs. The team did not adapt well enough to the quite different conditions but in the end they regained some measure of respectability in the score.
It's win or bust for the Staggs Bar Monarchs this week if we are to cling onto our faint hopes of reaching the playoffs as we welcome the Berwick Bandits to Armadale in our final SGB Championship match of the year.
Results have not went the way the Monarchs would have liked this week after our largely abject performance at Ashfield on Tuesday being compounded by the Tigers taking all 4 points available at Ipswich on Thursday night this means qualification is out of our hands.
As it stands Peterborough and Glasgow are secured their spots while mathematically the last 2 spots can come from any of the Monarchs, Lakeside, Workington and Berwick although it would take a strange set of results for it not to be the Hammers and Comets that finish the field.
Of course that mean that at this stage all the Monarchs can do is defeat the Bandits then sit back and see what happens.
That will not be an easy task though as the Bandits have shown themselves up well in recent weeks but appear to be falling foul of the weather time and again, the Borders men leading at both Armadale and Ipswich when rain put halt to proceedings for the two matches they have this weekend.
The Bandits team does have a slightly different make-up since we last saw them with the new averages ending Nikolaj Busk-Jakobsen's brief and fruitful spell at reserve the Dane being replaced there by Dany Gappmaier. Further to this a recent uptick in form of Aaron Summers sees him regain the number 1 jacket from Kevin Doolan.
The Bandits strength this year has been in the solidness of their line-up with no weak links at any point and remarkably less than 2 points separates the top averaged (Summers) from the bottom (Theo Pijper) in their 1-7. Having this level of scoring potential at the bottom end has been a real boon and this should be no different at Armadale with Theo Pijper in excellent form of late the most experienced man in either side at the circuit.
Summers, Doolan, Jakobsen and David Howe all boast excellent Armadale meetings in the not to distant past with the latter appearing to have overcome a knock and although better known as big track riders Jye Etheridge and Gappmaier can always spring a surprise so the home men will need to be at their best to take the spoils.
For the Monarchs Joel Andersson misses out after breaking 2 bones in his right foot in his heat 2 crash last Friday, Scunthorpe's Gino Manzares stepping in to guest. Beyond that the rest of the line-up is as per usual and all will be looking to bounce back to and show their usual dominant home form after the horror show at Ashfield.
So one last push is required if we are to have any chance of having a chance at grabbing that 6th title and with a tough Bandits team in town looking for maximum points to keep themselves in the playoff picture a tough night lies ahead.
Can the boys come through victorious, there's only one place to be to find out and that's trackside.
See you there!
Friday 14th September 2018, 9:34pm
The Staggs Bar Monarchs have fallen at the final hurdle in the chase for one of the remaining Play Off places, losing 42-48 to the Berwick Bandits on a massively rain affected track.
Thursday 13th September 2018, 10:33am
The Staggs Bar Monarchs and the Berwick KLS Bandits meet in the Championship at Armadale on Friday, both teams still in contention for a place in the Playoffs for which the cutoff for qualification is Sunday.