Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Ricky Wells||2||3||2*||3||3||13||1|
|2. Justin Sedgmen||1*||R||3||3||7||1|
|3. Josh Pickering||2||3||3||2||1||11||0|
|4. Joel Andersson||0||1||1||3||5||0|
|5. Cameron Heeps||3||3||3||0||9||0|
|6. William Lawson||0||0||1||1||2||0|
|7. Luke Ruddick||2||1||1||0||4||0|
Team Manager: Roy Clarke
|1. Steve Worrall||3||2||0||1*||0||6||1|
|2. Simon Lambert||0||0||0||0||0|
|3. Lasse Bjerre||3||1*||1||1||6||1|
|4. Matthew Wethers||1||2||0||2||5||0|
|5. Thomas Jorgensen||2||2||2||3||2||2||13||0|
|6. Max Clegg||3||1*||2||0||2||8||1|
|7. Danny Phillips||1||F||0||1||0|
No-one expected am easy match for the Staggs Bar Monarchs tonight, and it wasn't, but the eventual 51-39 win over Newcastle Diamonds had several encouraging aspects as well as the fact that it was Monarchs' first win of the season.
Justin Sedgmen's wins in heats 8 and 10 were perhaps the catalyst for victory in a match which was level after 7 heats. He said "It was obviously good to get these couple of wins. I had broken down in my second race after making the gate in that one as well, but I burnt out the clutch and the bike just went slower and slower. But we got there in the end.
"Heepsie's leading from the front, Wellsy's leading from the front, and when you see someone putting in as much effort in his races as Josh Pickering does, it spurs everyone on."
Everyone in the side had at least some good moments. Ricky Wells was back to his relaxed, confident best, Cameron Heeps continues to excel and Luke Ruddick is riding above himself and impressed everyone with his tenacity in picking up four good points.
William Lawson started slowly but finished well, Joel Andersson clinched the match victory and not for the first time, the most thrilling heats involved the battling Josh Pickering pulling off some amazing overtakes.
And then there was Justin Sedgmen. He has come back to regain the standards he set in 2014-5 and everyone wanted to see him at his best. He was a bit fortunate to get a point in heat 1 after a sluggish start, and while he was going well in heat 6 lying second to his partner till the final lap, that burnt out clutch brought him to a halt and lost him and the team vital points.
Whether that gave him the extra impetus to get himself going, he then stormed to victory in heats 8 and 10, helping to turn the match. In the latter race, after Sedgy had gated, Ricky Wells slotted neatly in behind him and took care of the Diamonds' pair of Bjerre and Wethers which looked like tough opposition.
From that point on there was only one winner. Two 4-2s to finish with ensured no points for the Diamonds. None of this had looked very likely when the visitors led 11-7 after three races, having provided all the heat winners and gating far more sharply than the Monarchs.
In the end the only consistently impressive Diamond was Thomas Jorgensen, the only one of their heat leaders not to win his first heat. Reserve Max Clegg also scored well (and seems to be gating better than he did in Monarchs' colours) but 6 points each for Worrall and Bjerre after winning their first rides was surprisingly low.
Home fans will remember the match for the solid performance of the team but also for three spectacular races from Josh Pickering which deserve extra comment.
The race of the night was heat 9 in which he passed and re-passed with Thomas Jorgensen in a memorable battle which will certainly feature in this year's Race of the Season competition.
Three heats later he was faced with Jorgensen again as a tac sub alongside Bjerre, and even though Josh gated well off the inside he messed up the first turn after hitting the kerb. Nevertheless a race long chase brought him a second place after a bold pass on Bjerre.
And he was at it again in heat 15, catching and passing Steve Worrall. Quite sensational from the Aussie. It didn't win him the Monarch of the Match award though because Ricky Wells imperious display won that award, and Cameron Heeps would also have been a contender after three superb wins had he not then got stuck at the rear in heat 13.
Overall though, a highly successful night for the Staggs Bar Monarchs who now look forward to Sunday's Shield match at Newcastle.
After a weekend to blow of the cobwebs it's into the real deal for the Staggs Bar Monarchs this weekend as we welcome Newcastle to Armadale in the Championship Shield group stages.
As has become traditional the Championship Shield is split into geographical groups with Berwick and Glasgow making up the remaining teams in the Northern section.
The Monarchs are the last to start their campaign with Berwick already having ridden 4 of their matches and the Diamonds and Tigers two. While that leaves us with ground to make up it does also mean we have the advantage of knowing what is required and the minimum target will be to take maximum home points and also pick something up on the road and that needs to start this weekend.
The Diamonds have had a relatively poor start to the season with heavy defeats home and away to Berwick meaning they have 0 points to their name in the Championship shield so far. A far better performance was had at home to heavily tipped Sheffield on Sunday as they ran out victors and this is the type of form they will look to bring up the A1 with them. With the type of Armadale pedigree in the Diamonds team then nothing can be taking for granted.
The Diamonds have no less than 3 former league winning Monarchs in their line-up starting at number 1 with Stevie Worrall, Worrall looking to show yet again he is one of the top men in the league after a year blighted by a broken leg in 2018. Backup to Worrall comes in the form of Danes Thomas Jorgensen and Lasse Bjerre, both of these Nordic stars have had their moments at Armadale and Jorgensen in particular is one of the fastest riders in the sport when he hits the front. The experienced Simon Lambert was a late addition to the Diamonds pre season after Nike Lunna quit the team meaning a double change Victor Palovaara being particularly unlucky to see himself resigned to the sidelines. Lambert is a canny performer although he will be the first to admit that the Dale is not particularly suited to his style. Joining Lambert in the second string positions is another of the Monarchs legends Matty Wethers still a canny performer in what is remarkably his 17th year in British speedway.
The reserves for the Diamonds are a position they hope is where they will come up trumps with Max Clegg and Danny Phillips. Clegg is another who needs no introduction to the Monarchs faithful after several years at the club and with an Armadale average in excess of 6 points in his time he will be a real sting in the tail for the visitors. Phillips is another who has suffered more than his fair share of injuries in the past few years and the hope is with his experience he could be among the stronger of the 2 point riders this year, although only time will tell.
For the home men it will very much be a case of dusting themselves down after the defeat to Wolves last week, of course that was an interleague challenge and we will not face a team with that sort of strength again. The team showed their mettle in only going down by 8 points at Scunny last Sunday and this is more like the type of performance we will be looking for with a couple of riders yet to kick into gear this year. That cannot be said of Cameron Heeps who has hit double figures in both his matches so far and with Josh Pickering not far behind the challenge set at the start of the season of backing up Ricky Wells is well on. Justin will have gained sharpness from riding 3 times in as many days last weekend and if he can jump out the start better he will take some beating while there were encouraging signs from Luke at home last week and from Willie in the later stages of the meeting at Scunny so all in all many good signs for the year ahead.
All of this means nothing when written down though and what matters is the performances on track, can the Monarchs step up again and taste victory for the first time this season, there is only one place to be to find out and that's trackside.
Friday 19th April 2019, 9:42pm
After a slow start, the Staggs Bar Monarchs shone against Newcastle, winning 51-39 over the Diamonds in opening Championship Shield clash.
Wednesday 17th April 2019, 7:30pm
After last weekend's opening fixtures, the Staggs Bar Monarchs in time-honoured fashion move into the Championship Shield which starts with a mini-league qualifying section which also features Glasgow, Berwick and Newcastle.