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Edinburgh Monarchs v Newport Wasps

REPORT Friday 30th June 2006, 10:00pm

by Mike Hunter

There was some great racing in this match, and a Monarchs' performance which took a while to come together.

Any thoughts of the unlikely bonus point were soon dismissed and with a 2-point lead at heat 8 there was no certainty of the match points either.

Monarchs need everyone somewhere near their best before results will come easily, and there were some patchy performances here.

Derek Sneddon is really struggling to regain the sure touch of his early season, and Rusty Harrison tries so hard but can't find the smoothness he needs.

The match started with another outrageous cutback from Theo Pijper, visiting the first corner fence before making an extremely long straight and driving past everyone. William got rather squeezed out on the straight but came back for the point.

It seemed Derek Sneddon must win heat 2 as he led from his old adversary Joel Parsons and was not under pressure, but as last week he got into difficulties and surrendered the lead.

No problems, though, for William and Matthew as they soared away in heat 3 from Atkin and the very out-of-touch Neil Collins.

Heat 4 was a tremendous tussle between Rusty Harrison and Carl Wilkinson, two wholehearted battlers giving it all they had. Rusty came up the inside to take the lead at the end of lap two, Wilko got it back on the next turn and a last-gasp outside blast by Rusty missed out by a tyre.

Monarchs' bad gating was in evidence again in heat 5 and it took a great effort by Matthew to pass Mark Lemon as Schramm took the win.

Theo again used the cutback to slice past Wilkinson to lead heat 6, and we had an even more enthralling battle between Harrison and Wilkinson again. Once more the visitor took it even though Risty was into second for a while; an error saw him almost collect the back straight fence and drop back to third.

Rusty was out again in heat 7 and actually made a start, but he got the second turn wrong as Atkin and Collins came past. In another fascinating heat Rusty worked his way back through again, this time staying there.

Theo's slow start and cutback didn't work in heat 8 this time, and Schramm held him back long enough for Parsons to build a winning lead. We had enjoyed great racing but led by a miserly two points.

Wilkinson led heat 9 but William Lawson took advantage of an extravagant locker for the win, with Matthew just losing out in spite of another good ride.

Heat 10 was a straightforward 5-1 against the Wasps' struggling middle pair, and heat 11 gave us a bigger advantage. Mark Lemon was excluded for a first bend fall, and although Schramm led the rerun he eventually got into difficulties. This may have been caused by an engine defect but it brought Rusty down to earn him an exclusion. Sean was the lucky recipient of a paid win.

Parsons took a TR in heat 12 but at last Derek got himself going with a steady win, coolly backed by Matthew who was doing a great job.

Mark Lemon hadn't performed well to this point but he won heat 13 from Theo; unfortunately Wasps had given the black and white hat to Wilkinson who could only double a third place point.

At last in heat 14 we saw a Monarch with the confidence and skill to sweep round the field from gate 4 - William Lawson sped home from there.

The match finished with a fine battle as Lawson and Wethers took a 4-2 from Lemon and Wilkinson in a closely contested race.

Monarchs certainly deserved to win a very entertaining encounter, but heat 11's 5-0 made it easier than it might have been.