Team Manager: Garry May
|1. Rory Schlein||2*||3||3||2||3||13||1|
|2. Anders Rowe||3||2*||3||0||8||1|
|3. Nick Morris||2*||3||3||2||10||1|
|4. Nico Covatti||3||2*||1||2||8||1|
|5. Chris Harris||3||2||2||1*||1||9||1|
|6. Nathan Stoneman||3||1||1||0||1*||6||1|
|7. Luke Harris||0||1*||0||1||1|
Team Manager: John Campbell
|1. Sam Masters||R||1||3||3||3||2||12||0|
|2. James Sarjeant||1||R||0||1||0|
|3. Josh Pickering||1||R||1*||2||1|
|4. Ricky Wells||R||3||2||3||0||8||0|
|5. Ellis Perks||R||2||0||2||0|
|6. Connor Coles||1*||0||0||1||1|
|7. William Lawson||2||2||1||2||1||1||0||9||0|
The Staggs Bar Monarchs playoff hopes are now hanging by a thread after going down 55-35 to the Somerset Rebels at the Oak Tree Arena on Wednesday night.
The match had been billed as a must win beforehand and while not 100% certain it can be said that the victory for the home men will go a long way to them securing the final spot in the battle for the Championship.
The Monarchs made a nightmare start in heavy conditions with 5 retirements in the first 7 races and found themselves on the wrong end of an 18 point deficit at this point and there was no way back.
Monarchs team manager John Campbell taking up the story "There was a heavy heavy shower at 6:30 and that changed conditions drastically, I actually phoned Alex (Harkess Monarchs co-promoter) to let him hear how heavy it was and he could not believe it. I think if the match was in June it may have been called off but it is this time of year and you have to race through these things.
"The Rebels then won the toss and I think that was key, they choose 1 and 3 and that meant they had the inside gates in 4 of the first 6 races. I knew we were in trouble when Sam came in after heat 1 after he had retired saying how bad gate 4 was.
"We then had a run of engine failures and I think these can be attributed to that also as the amount of muck in the bikes it was causing problems, if you look at it once the gate positions started to change and the conditions dried out we all but matched Somerset.
"That is not to take anything away from the Rebels their tails were up and they knew how important this match was to them and they will be a tough challenge on Friday as well.
"These things happen and while I'm disappointed with the result we now know we need maximum points from the rest of our matches."
As Campbell mentioned after this disaster of a start the Monarchs did race on manfully in the second half of the meeting only being bested by 2 points over the remaining heats but this is scant consolation as another pointless night on their travels was recorded.
In all honesty the Monarchs did not have enough riders capable of scoring points and with the engine woes that befell Ellis Perks and Josh Pickering the back-up was not there for Sam Masters and Ricky Wells who can both be happy with their efforts. Masters took a couple of rides to get dialled in but after that raced to 3 victories in his 12 point haul while Wells recorded his best away performance since his drop out of the number 1 spot with 8 points.
Another who can be happy with his nights efforts was reserve William Lawson, Lawson was competitive throughout racing to 9 points the kind of scoring that many would have hoped would have led to a better result but with James Sarjeant failing to beat an opponent all evening and Conner Coles only besting this by beating Luke Harris in heat 2 and Josh Pickering only beating Anders Rowe in heat 10 there were too many passengers for a challenge on the night.
That is not to take away from the performance of the Rebels who adapted better to the conditions and were worthy winners. Their top 4 all contributing as expected while Anders Rowe continues to impress being unbeaten in his first 3 rides.
This now means that for the Monarchs to make the playoffs they will need to record 2 maximum 4 points victories over Berwick and Newcastle away from home this weekend while also remaining unbeaten at home and overturning an 87 points difference to the Rebels who will complete their league campaign at Armadale on Friday.
With the Monarchs away form so far this season a huge uptick in form will be required if any sniff of this is to happen.
The Staggs Bar Monarchs are hoping it is third time lucky as they once again head south to take on the Somerset Rebels in a twice abandoned match on Wednesday night.
Rain has been the cause of the postponement each of the last 2 occasions and without wanting to tempt fate the forecast finally looks favourable for what is without doubt a must win match for the Monarchs should we have any chance to progress to the end of season playoffs.
As it stands Leicester, Glasgow despite their home defeat to Scunthorpe and Redcar look nailed on for the top 3 positions with the Rebels heavy favourites for the final spot currently sitting on a +6 margin for away points gained versus home points dropped. The Monarchs currently sit on -2 in the same measure but a win at the Oak Tree Arena would lead to a minimum of a 6 point swing and leave the Monarchs at worse two points behind their rivals with matches left against Berwick and Newcastle to try and gain further away points. The Rebels would then finish their league campaign at Armadale this Friday so a double over Garry May's men is vital otherwise a minor miracle would be required this weekend.
Of course there are other sides in the mix with Berwick and Sheffield also chasing that last place also.
The Monarchs task will be made all the harder by the absence of Cameron Heeps, Heeps is making progress in his recovery but this match comes a little early Leicester's Ellis Perks has been booked to gust. Perk's showed up well at the Oak Tree Arena earlier in the season in the Lions win earlier in the season taking the scalps of Rory Schlein and Nico Covatti in his 8+1 point haul a repeat of this would be much appreciated.
Elsewhere Sam Masters will be looking to carry on his recent unbelievable form and put the disappointment of a fourth place finish in the Championship Riders Individual Championship at Sheffield on Sunday behind him. Masters is a former Rebel and was also part of our Championship Pairs winning team at the arena with Max Fricke back in 2014.
Backup will come from Josh Pickering and Ricky Wells the later in particular looking to turn around a recent wretched run of away form.
A repeat of James Sarjeant's 8 point score for Glasgow at the Oak Tree arena would give the Monarchs a solid platform to build on with key performances needed from Willie and Conner at reserve where both have the advantage in the experience stakes over their counterparts.
The Rebels are at full strength and it appears their top men are rounding into form at just the right time. Rory Schlein moves back to number one for the start of September but the strength at the top end of the team is shown by the fact that Nick Morris and Chris Harris are both within 0.05 of Schlein with figures in excess of 8.60. Nico Covatti rounding out a powerhouse top 4.
The remainder of the team maybe short of experience but is definitely high in enthusiasm with Anders Rowe having a stellar debut year in the Championship. The recent move to the number 2 spot does not seem to have fazed the young Dorset racer. Luke Harris and Nathan Stoneman have also had their moments and will need to be subdued should the Monarchs be to get the result they so desperately need.
So a huge match lies ahead in what is realistically if not mathematically last chance saloon for the Monarchs league title hopes.
Keep an eye on the Monarchs official website for updates!