Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||3||0||3||12||0|
|2. Nathan Greaves||2*||0||1||0||3||1|
|3. William Lawson||0||1*||1||2||1|
|4. Josh Pickering||3||2||3||3||2*||13||1|
|5. Richie Worrall||1*||3||1||3||8||1|
|6. Jack Smith||0||0||F||0||0|
|7. Kye Thomson||3||2||3||0||3||1||12||0|
Team Manager: Gary Flint
|1. Jye Etheridge||1||3||1*||2*||1*||8||3|
|2. Dany Gappmaier||0||0||2||3||5||0|
|3. Kasper Andersen||2||3||2||2||1*||2||F||12||1|
|4. Aaron Summers||1*||1*||2||2||2||1||9||2|
|5. Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen - Rider Replacement||0||0|
|6. Leon Flint||2||2||1*||FD||0||5||1|
|7. Kyle Bickley||1*||0||0||1||1|
The What the Fork Monarchs came through in the end to take a 50-40 victory over Berwick in a hard-fought match. It certainly wasn't easy and Monarchs only led by 4 with two heats remaining. Their victory owed a lot to a best-yet dozen from Kye Thomson and another great display by Josh Pickering who has never ridden better than he is at the moment.
After dropping just a single point to Bandits' Jye Etheridge, Josh said "We did what we have to do. I wouldn't say Berwick have got 2 or 3 big riders who win lots of heats but they have a team who all do well, they are a strong team and they normally run us close here. So it's good to get the three points and send them home with nothing. Things are going well, we are just having fun!"
It was a night of many shared races and Monarchs were grateful to have Thomson to cover heats that looked vulnerable, and to make up for a couple of uncharacteristic blunders by the home stars. Sam Masters touched the tapes in heat 13 and couldn't pick up anything off a 15 metre handicap, while earlier in heat 11 Richie Worrall had come to the tapes without a chain guard and eventually suffered a 2-minute exclusion.
This appeared to be a comedy of errors with no-one quite sure what was happening. However it was certainly a correct disqualification and Richie too was unable to make anything of his 15 metre handicap.*
The match had started with the Bandits making the jump in heat 1 but Sam Masters falling, and perhaps being fortunate to get in the rerun. The second attempt was completely different as Masters flew to the front, backed by partner Nathan Greaves with an excellent ride to pass Etheridge.
That 5-1 was valuable because the next seven heats all finished 3-3. Heat 2 was a notable win for Thomson who was pressed hard by Leon Flint, while it was Berwick who supplied the race winners in heats 4 and 5 through impressive debutant Kasper Andersen and Jye Etheridge.
The dangerous Andersen-Summers pair seemed to make the start in heat 7 but Richie Worrall pulled off an excellent outside move to sweep to the front, It was an up and down night for Richie but his two race wins were important ones.
Kye Thomson won heat 8 and Greaves held second early on only to be passed by Gappmaier who is starting to get the hang of Armadale. The next two heats were shared but Monarchs seemed in control with a 6-point advantage until that shambolic 2-minute exclusion gifted the Bandits a 5-1.
They may have made further progress in heat 12 but Flint spun on the first corner and earned an exclusion, followed by another vital Thomson win ahead of Andersen.
We then had the Masters tape-touch, situation salvaged by Worrall with a win, and a big win by Pickering in heat 14 to clinch the match victory.
Berwick needed to share the last heat to earn a point and we had a great battle between Masters, Pickering and Andersen over the first two laps until unfortunately the Dane went into the air fence trying an ambitious outside move. He seemed to be OK after treatment.
*Footnote: It has subsequently become clear that Richie's chain guard WAS on, but he did not have a small flap called a "chain guide". The rules don't appear to require this. In hindsight the correct thing would have been to cancel the two minutes while the confusion was sorted out, then let Richie take his place.
It might be a fortnight since the Monarchs last turned a wheel in anger, but the "Scunny Weekender" remains fresh in the mind. Perhaps too fresh. It was certainly a story of highs and lows for the capital outfit.
At home on the Friday night it was pretty much business as usual with an Edinburgh win, although the 52-38 score line perhaps masks how difficult Scunthorpe made it for the hosts. With three heats to go, the Lincolnshire outfit trailed by just four points having kept within touching distance all night.
Outstanding work from Sam and Ritchie in Heats 13 and 15 stretched that lead to the tune of two 5-1s, however, and with Josh and Joe weighing in with a handy 4-2 in the penultimate race, there was to be no consolation point for the hard-working Scorpions.
All three heat leaders maintained their fine current form with double-figure returns, but alas, two days later, it was to be a vastly different story. Despite forging ahead with an opening heat 4-2, Pijper and Aarnio's 5-1 four heats later opened up a margin that was only ever going to increase as the meeting progressed. Indeed, by the end, Scunthorpe's winning score line had grown sufficiently to exceed the Monarchs of the day before.
This was Edinburgh's first defeat of the season and it's one they will hope to shrug off when near-ish neighbours Berwick provide the opposition for this weekend's latest double-header. As things stand, the Borderers sit fifth in the Championship table two points beneath Edinburgh in third, although the Monarchs have three meetings in hand.
Just one glance though at the Bandits' line-up for 2021 tells you everything you need to know about their quality. There is strength in abundance throughout the team.
Aussie and former Monarch Jye Etheridge has gone from strength to strength since leaving West Lothian in 2016 and although his current average (7.34) is only slightly up on the start of the season, the increase has been enough to elevate him to the team's No.1. Doubling up in the Premiership with Belle Vue, Jye's Aces average sits at a healthy 6.55, just above that of our own Richie Worrall.
Etheridge's fellow heat leaders at Shielfield Park, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Aaron Summers may have less than earth-shattering averages (7.03 and 6.85 respectively), but few will be fooled by that.
Born February 1994 in Viborg, Denmark, Nikolaj has been a Bandit since 2018 and, although injury has blighted his career on and off, on his day he is inordinately capable of great things.
Like his Danish team-mate, Aaron Summers joined Berwick in 2018. Hailing from Adelaide, South Australia, the 33-year-old possesses an incredible depth of experience in British speedway since making his debut way back in 2007 with Buxton Hitmen. His UK clubs' number 12 including Edinburgh with whom he spent seasons 2007 to 2009, winning a Premier Trophy and the Play-offs twice.
One man in the Bandits' line-up who makes Jakobsen, and Summers look like relative newcomers to Tweedside is the affable Austrian, Dany Gappmaier. Born September 1991 in Salzburg, Dany first arrived at Berwick in 2016 and has enjoyed an unbroken spell with the club ever since. Ever-popular with the Berwick fans (and beyond), "The Gap" will certainly be one to mind on Friday.
Coty Garcia's extended stay in his Argentinian homeland has finally forced boss Gary Flint's hand in finding a replacement and making his Bandits' debut on Friday will be 22-year-old former King's Lynn and Sheffield ace Kasper Andersen. Starved of recent race action due to permit issues, the Dane will be keen to hit the ground running with his new club.
At reserve, Berwick can claim two of the country's most exciting youngsters in Rising Star Leon Flint and Kyle Bickley whose added involvement as team-mates with Berwick Bullets in the National League should be advantageous to their development through both continuity and familiarity.
So, it looks like another tough test for a Monarchs side navigating their own recent line-up reshuffles. Updated average figures have triggered William Lawson's move up to the main body of the side while Kye Thomson drops down to reserve. And with Joe Lawlor still self-isolating, Jack Smith and Drew Kemp will guest at Armadale on Friday and Berwick on Saturday respectively.
Tickets are still available from the Monarchs website and will also be available from the Box Office outside the stadium from an hour before start-time, for those unable to attend them the live stream is available from the EMTV link on the website also.
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Friday 9th July 2021, 10:00am
If you are attending Armadale Stadium tonight for the first time this season, you will find it slightly different from normal with many measures in place for your safe return to enjoying speedway!
Wednesday 7th July 2021, 5:00pm
Berwick Bandits present the opposition for the What the Fork Monarchs on Friday, and will track their new man Kasper Andersen for his debut as well as having the exceptional youngster Leon Flint still in a reserve berth.
Tuesday 6th July 2021, 9:56am
Order your copy of the What The Fork Monarchs v Berwick Bandits matchday magazine now - a perfect accompaniment to your EMTV:Live experience!