REPORT Friday 19th June 2009, 10:00pm
Before the first leg of the Knockout Cup quarter final we would surely have settled for a 22-point lead to take down to Derwent Park.
We built the advantage steadily after a strong start, and managed to avoid conceding any race advantages. We also restricted Comets with their heralded heat leader trio to just 5 race wins, and had ourselves a mere two last places.
So that is what you call efficiency and it gives us the upper hand for the second leg, without killing the tie off completely.
Fisher and Summers were away smartly in heat 1, but Doolan got the better of a tussle for second with Aaron. Heat 2 was a comfortable 5-1 with Summers set to sit in second spot keep an eye on Sean, under very little pressure from Graversen, who in fact was picking up his only point.
Rajkowski and Tully then dealt firmly with Rymel on the opening bend of heat 3 and at 14-4 things could hardly be going any better.
We knew Kevin Doolan would be a race winner so it was no shock when he took heat 5. Tully was through for a chase but there was no catching the Comets? no. 1.
Heat 6 was a good one. Ryan Fisher was away well from gate 1 but made a mess of the first turn to let Compton go ahead. Wethers came into second and both Monarchs were pressing hard. Ryan made another error and dropped back, but Matthew kept pressing, using a wide entry to the turn and a cutback.
He was close by the final turn and with a perfect execution of the move, he swept over the line in front.
Twelve up now, and another Wethers win plus Summers point added two more in heat 7.
We left Sean Stoddart (paid 5 so far in heat 8) but this time he made a poor start and even worse pits corner to drop way back. Fisher as r/r inevitably won the heat but we lost a chance to take more points.
Comets used their tactical gate option for heat 9, switching Compton to gate 3, and he made it count with another win.
Fisher and Tully took advantage of Rymel who was proving to be the weak link for Workington, and now we led by 18 points. Thoughts were turning towards heats 13 and 15 whene we might have been hard pressed to prevent Comets cutting our lead.
Doolan won heat 12 but we shared it, then we saw how handy Craig Cook can be in spite of his inexperience when he split Summers and Rajkowski with Rymel at the back.
And so into heat 13, Doolan taking the tactical option of moving to gate 2. This had the right effect again as he won the heat but Fisher and Wethers kept Compton quiet, well at the back.
Again we saw Cook prominent in heat 14, leading the way until Andrew Tully wore him down and passed stylishly.
Another chance maybe for Comets in the last race, and they did try to push Fisher out, but the American went for the big sweep to win the heat and maintain our 22-point lead.
HERMISTON MONARCH OF THE MATCH: Andrew Tully.