Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Richie Worrall||2||2||3||2||1||10||0|
|2. Lasse Fredriksen||0||0||3||1||4||0|
|3. Kye Thomson||1||2||2||3||8||0|
|4. Paco Castagna||0||0||1*||2*||3||2|
|5. Craig Cook||2||1||2||1*||3||9||1|
|6. Kyle Bickley||2*||0||1*||3||6||2|
|7. Jacob Hook||3||0||2*||0||5||1|
Team Manager: Peter Schroeck
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||3||0||2||11||0|
|2. Cameron Heeps||1||1||1||FD||0||3||0|
|3. Justin Sedgmen||3||3||2||2||10||0|
|4. Jordan Jenkins||2*||2*||0||1||5||2|
|5. Scott Nicholls||3||3||3||3||12||0|
|6. Henry Atkins||1||1||0||1*||3||1|
|7. Luke Killeen||0||1||0||0||1||0|
Oxford Cheetahs deservedly progressed to the next round of the Championship Knockout Cup tonight, and were never in danger of losing the tie, but the Stellar Monarchs at least fought back to come from a 12-point deficit after 7 races to grab a draw on the night.
Alex Harkess said "We were never in the tie with a chance to be honest, but at least the team showed some fight after a dreadful start to the night. Heat 13 between Scott Nicholls and Richie Worrall was a wonderful race."
Over the early part of the match Oxford were in complete control and incredibly they had four unbeaten riders up until heat 10. It had been Monarchs' plan to strike early in order to make inroads into the Cheetahs' 18 point first leg lead, but it was absolutely the other way round and home fans looked on in shock as they fell to a 15-27 deficit. Monarchs took a welcome 5-1 in heat 2 but lost the remainder of the first 7 heats.
Scott Nicholls, Sam Masters, guest Justin Sedgmen and second string Jordan Jenkins were all unbeaten at that point. There was a home success in heat 8 as Lasse Fredriksen won the heat, and Jacob Hook held out Cameron Heeps narrowly for second place.
After another Nicholls win, Richie Worrall at last lowered the colours of Sedgmen in heat 10, and there was a slice of luck for the Monarchs in the next heat. It looked a certain 5-1 to the Cheetahs as Masters and Heeps strolled clear, but on the final lap Heeps unexpectedly lost his bearings and went into the fence on the pits corner.
Thomson won heat 12 and heat 13 was the highlight of the night. Worrall and Cook at last made strong starts and held a 5-1 down the back straight. Nicholls though is the ultimate Armadale rider and he smoothly went between the home men on the next corner, pegging back Cook. He wanted more and after a thrilling neck and neck tussle he also squeezed past the Monarchs' guest for a great win.
The gap had now narrowed to 6 points and Monarchs forced a last heat decider when Bickley and Castagna (the latter coming to the fore once more in his final heat) took a 5-1 to leave a 2-point gap.
Had the result on the night been crucial Oxford would no doubt have fielded the magnificent Nicholls, but they chose to give Heeps another ride along with Sam Masters. Cook and Worrall looked like going to the front early on before Masters got into second to leave the scores tied.
Overall, Oxford were streets ahead over the two legs but Monarchs' fans can take a little consolation that the team at least fought back to salvage something. They have a fortnight to come up with a better performance when the league programme starts.
Thursday 27th April 2023, 10:07am
The Stellar Monarchs need something special if they are to make progress in this year's Knockout Cup by beating Oxford who are the visitors to Armadale on Friday (7:30pm).