Edinburgh Monarchs Academy v Oxford Chargers
Friday 19th April 2024, 7:30pm
National Development League
Armadale Stadium
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Stellar Monarchs led fantastically by Josh Pickering took Berwick to the wire at Shielfield Park on Saturday night just being pipped in heat 15 going down 47-43.

In a back and forth match that saw both sides need to use tactical options it all came down to the last.

Berwick's big two on the night Rory Schlein and guest Richard Lawson up against Justin Sedgmen and unbeaten to that point Pickering.

Berwick with the choice took gates one and three meaning Pickering had the task of trying to come from the outside a step too far as the home pair rocketed from the start to make sure the points stayed in the Borders.

The Monarchs had started brightly with Pickering taking a tapes to flag win in heat one this being followed by a maximum 5-1 in the second heat as Max James and Connor Coles jumped from the start, Coles shepherding his younger teammate round for his maiden win at Championship level.

Coles saying after, 'We all had a good match I think but they just got that maximum in the last heat.

'Josh was fantastic to only get beat in heat 15 all night and I think we all had our moments in the team, it shows what is needed to win and you can't afford any slip ups.

'I was happy enough with my own performance, I was a little annoyed in the heat I got passed I thought it was Lasse behind me but overall I was happy enough.'

The Monarchs would extend their lead with another maximum in heat five, Pickering and Lasse Fredriksen taking the spoils over Drew Kemp at the third attempt.

This opened up tactical territory for the hosts and boss Stewart Dickson was quick to act bringing Schlein into heat six the resulting 5-1 with Lawson bringing the Monarchs advantage down to two.

This advantage would be lost in heat eight as former Monarch Bastian Borke produced the ride of the night going from last to second with a tenacious effort to join teammate Danyon Hume at the front and give the Bandits their first lead of the night.

Hume would be involved in another heat 10 home 5-1 this time with Lawson and now it was the Monarchs turn to make changes.

Pickering was brought into heat 12 to join Kye Thomson and promptly hit the front. Thomson getting himself into second briefly of the 2nd bend before home man Jye Etheridge would split the Monarchs duo.

Most eyes were on the battle at the back as Borke looked to repeat his heat 8 effort gaining on Thomson by the lap but it would be Etheridge that would come a cropper picking up grip on the second bend of the last lap and coming down.

The drama was far from over as the Monarchs pulled themselves level with one beat remaining again this taking more than one attempt.

First up Monarchs captain Paco Castagna and Borke having a coming together in the first bend, the Bandit taking the worst if it and being forced out of the re-run.

Castagna capping a good nights work while feeling notably second hand making no mistake in the re-run and with partner Coles slotting into third it was all square.

It was not to be for the Monarchs though as the Bandits pair leapt from the start and could not be denied.

Still a night with a lot of positives to take for the Monarchs, and Bandits for that matter as the sides do it all again at Armadale a week on Friday.

Bandits 47 : Lawson 9+4, Hume 7+1, Etheridge 2+2, Kemp 7, Schlein 14, Hodder 1+1, Borke 7+1

Stellar Monarchs 43 : Pickering 16, Fredriksen 2+1, Thomson 4+1, Castagna 8+1, Sedgmen 6, James 3, Coles 4+1