REPORT Friday 28th April 2006, 10:00pm
Newcastle can often be a danger at Armadale, but the Scotwaste Monarchs made an excellent job of defeating them.
Theo Pijper, William Lawson and Sean Stoddart were in great form and there were good points from everyone else. Only Rusty Harrison will not look on the match with much fondness, and he is struggling to find his best form at the moment.
For the first time this season at home we were not off gates 1 and 3 in heat 1, but that didn't worry Theo as he went round George Stancl to streak away and win. Henrik Moller didn't gate well and couldn't find a way past Christian Henry.
Having struggled with his gating all year, Sean Stoddart suddenly came up with a corker to lead the way in heat 2. Derek Sneddon worked hard to settle into a position behind Sean, and gradually the pair pulled away from their Newcastle counterparts.
Fast-gating Franc led the way in heat 3 but William Lawson produced a scorching back straight drive to burst inside him on the pits turn. Matthew took third, and we gained another 4-2 in heat 4.
Initially this looked like a 5-1 as Derek led and Rusty settled in to second, but James Grieves went round Rusty on the pits turn.
Stancl became the first Newcastle race winner in heat 5 when he held off William's bold drives, and there was interest at the back too as Christian Henry looked several times as though he might pick something up with his wide sweeps.
We saw just how well Theo was going in the next race. James Grieves led, but Theo reeled him in and moved ever-so-smoothly through on the pits bend. Henrik also put pressure on Diamonds' no. 5 but had to settle for third.
The gap was 10 now which meant TR time, and Pepe Franc duly recorded six in spite of a hard chase by Rusty. Sean Stoddart did his job again by getting the better of Adam McKinna with a bit to spare.
Heat 8 looked a hopeful one for us but Christian Henry did his best to spoil it by making the start. Once again Theo caught and passed him with coolness and confidence, but Derek had to settle for third.
Newcastle didn't choose to put Grieves on a TR in heat 9, but James led the way with William chasing. Once again the Lawson challenges were impressive and he was close at the finish, but the decision to award the race win to the Monarch was surely wrong.
Theo was clear again in heat 10 and with Franc missing the gate and showing no signs of passing, it was Jamie Robertson who split the Monarchs. Henrik though harried him and eventually came past for a 5-1, which put us a remarkable 15 ahead.
We brought Derek into heat 11 to guard against the TR but it was to no avail. Christian Henry gated again, with Stancl second on the TR, and our pair got themselves in a tangle on the first corner.
Rusty gave chase and got past Stancl a couple of times, but he could never find position and eventually fell on the final lap. The red lights went on before Christian had time to let his partner through, so it was a 1-7.
We had to be careful now with just a 9-point lead. Christian Henry had the bit between his teeth now and won his rider replacement ride in heat 12, but Matthew and Sean shared it.
Neither Henrik nor Rusty had been at their best so there were some concerns over heat 13, especially when Rusty's bike packed up before the race. Theo came out to loan his but Rusty looked a forlorn figure at the back. Henrik rode well though, eventually shaking off Grieves and just failing with a strong challenge on Stancl.
The gap was now down to 7 so we gave Derek a ride in heat 14 to try to clinch the win. Franc gated with William chasing and Derek third, but Derek went far too wide on the pits corner and hit the fence.
It was an unnecessary stoppage from our point of view, but William took a close second in the rerun to put us 5 ahead going into the final heat. Nearly there.
The show closed with another great ride from Theo. This time his victim was George Stancl, and again it was a smooth pits bend pass that completed Theo's brilliant maximum.
HALMOND ENGINEERING MONARCH OF THE MATCH: Theo Pijper.