Somerset Rebels v Edinburgh Monarchs

REPORT Tuesday 29th September 2015, 10:00pm

by Mike Hunter

  Edinburgh Monarchs

A great display by the Border Roofing Monarchs tonight saw them fight back over the latter stages of the Travel Plus KO Cup Final first leg to go down by a very respectable 41-49.

They had to work very hard against a powerful and determined Cases Rebels team who led by 12 points after heat 9 and looked like establishing a healthy lead.

Two wins for Erik Riss had a lot to do with the turn of the tide, but we have firstly to give star billing to our number one. Craig Cook, Craig Cook, Craig Cook, what a star he is.

Not only did he score a breathtaking 15 point maximum, including some stunning outside overtaking, but he also in heat one shattered Leigh Adams' 8-year old track record with a new time of 55.68 (previous record 56.08!)

He praised the track in a mid-match interview and was given generous applause and praise by the announcer, presenter and the fans.

Rebels' PRman Ian Belcher told us that Craig was the first visiting rider for five years to score a maximum, and the last one was a Monarch too - Ryan Fisher in 2010.

It was a sporting and enthralling encounter. The opening heat was shared with Cook of course winning, then we lost a 5-1 in heat 2 by a fair margin.

Sam split the Rebels in heat 3 but both Erik and Justin had been tailed off in their first rides - we needed something from them.

A great win for Sam in heat four, Then another win for Craig. This time Sedgmen gated well also, only to be easily passed by the impressive Worrall, followed by a race long tussle as Justin almost managed to get second spot back. That was a lot better.

Heat 6 was the best race of the night, a superb four lap passing battle between Masters and Kurtz which Brady got by a tyre on the line. Get the video for that one.

Sedgmen and Riss shared heat 7 behind Grajczonek, then we looked like sharing heat 8 with Jensen winning until Starke caught Branford on the last lap. Rebels now 28-20 ahead.

Sam made a terrible gate in heat 9 and lost control on the first corner, losing a lot of ground. A Wright-Worrall 5-1 was a setback and now we trailed 33-21, a pretty ominous score at this stage.

Erik then really joined the party with a superb heat 10, in spite of every effort by Kurtz to catch him.

Heat 11 saw Cook swoop round Grajczonek on the pits corner to make one of his most impossible overtakes, with Sedgy adding the point to pull the deficit back to 10.

Heat 12 saw the only controversy of the night. Charles Wright had clearly decided he knew how to stop Erik, riding across the second bend to block his outside run. Erik was pushed right into the dirt and reared over the back. Ref Vardy decided it was unfair and out went Wright, who looked shocked.

Starke was in the heat but Erik got his second win, and the big bonus was a great ride by Rob Branford for the paid win!

Now the score was 39-33 as we went into the interval with our tails up.

Heat 13 was another incredible Cook sweep to the front, with Sam struggling a bit now.

We had high hopes of Erik in heat 14 but he was squeezed out at the first corner by Starke and Worrall and we lost the 5-1 to go back to 10 down.

However Erik had done enough to get a heat 15 ride, and as Craig Cook soared away for that maximum, our young German took a good and important point ahead of Richie Worrall.

Great performance all round, thanks to Somerset for staging a great event and roll on Friday for a thrilling second leg.