Edinburgh Monarchs v Newport Wasps

PREVIEW Friday 2nd July 2010, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

With more than half the visiting Newport side new to the Armadale circuit, there will be no lack of interest this Friday (7.30) in the first half of a weekend home and away double header for Premier League points.

Monarchs still sit proudly on top of the league while Newport are close to the bottom, but with matches in hand over Berwick and Redcar below them. At least the Wasps have a more settled line-up this year having used only half the number of riders they did last season ? an incredible fifteen.

And of last year?s Wasps, only two were retained, Leigh Lanham who rode for half a season and Kim Nilsson who rode only twice in Newport colours. Ipswich-born Lanham leads the side, returning after dislocating his shoulder at the end of last season and not yet back to his impressive 2008 form.

He will be partnered by Swedish Under-21 rider Robin Aspergen, making his Wasps d?but as an injury replacement for Anders Mellgren who had come in on assessed 7.00 but who had dropped to reserve. Aspergen rides for Vetlanda in the same side as Jason Crump and Jarek Hampel, and will be using Mellgren?s equipment.

Craig Watson provides the experience to back up Lanham at No.3. The Sydneysider, also in his early thirties, has ridden for the majority of his career at Newport. He has had more than his fair share of serious injury, the most recent of which was a shattered upper leg at the beginning of the 2009 season.

Canadian Kyle Legault at No.4 also suffered a broken thigh early in 2008, a broken jaw at the end of 2008, and complications from the thigh injury at the start of 2009 when about to begin riding for Poole. Newport is the latest in a list of former clubs where he has tended to spend only one season before moving on.

The other Under-21 Swede, Kim Nilsson rides at No.5 and is close to matching his assessed 7.00 point average. The team is completed by two 17-year-old Australians, Alex Davies on an assessed 5.00 who moves back down to reserve and Todd Kurtz who is exceeding his original assessed 3.00.

On their home shale, Monarchs should be too strong for the Welsh club and will be looking for a big score to boost their confidence ahead of away matches against Rye House on Saturday and Newport on Sunday. But expect a few surprises along the way from virtually any one of this very entertaining Wasps side.

Probable line-ups

Monarchs: Ryan Fisher, Ryan Fisher, Tobias Busch, rider replacement for Kevin Wolbert, Matthew Wethers (c), Andrew Tully, Cal McDade, Kalle Katajisto.

Newport: Leigh Lanham (c), Robin Aspergen, Craig Watson, Kyle Legault, Kim Nilsson, Alex Davies, Kurt Shields.