Max and Sissis do battle Image Credit: Ron MacNeill

Tigers On The Prowl

PREVIEW Thursday 28th July 2016, 11:52am

by Graham Muncie

It’s a very different looking Border Roofing Monarch line-up that takes to the track this week at Armadale against the Sheffield ‘Sheffield Window Centre’ Tigers.

A mixture of World Cup and German league fixtures means the home men are down 4 of our normal top 5 and we will be up against it as the Tigers come to town sniffing a win.

Sheffield currently sit comfortably in the playoff positions and have backed up their usual excellent home form with some fine performances away from Owlerton having recorded victories at Berwick and Scunthorpe to go with a draw at Redcar to their name also.

Unlike a lot of current Premier League teams the Tigers have a definite British spine to their outfit with 5 out of the septet being English born.

First and foremost of this home grown contingent is number 1 Simon Stead. Stead is now a very experienced campaigner and the 34 year old is slowing no signs of slowing down despite numerous nasty injuries over the last few years and currently has an average in excess of 9.50. Stead would maybe not class Armadale as one of his favourite tracks as he is more at home on the wide open spaces of the larger tracks but someone of his class will always need looking out for.

Number 2 for the Tigers is young Frenchman Dmitri Berge. Dmitri was first brought to these shores by Glasgow and despite showing some potential his stay there was cut short and Sheffield were more than happy to snap him up for this season. Berge has repaid this faith by increasing his average by more than 2 points so far this season and is definitely on an upward trajectory.

Number 3 is current British under 21 champ Josh Bates. Monarch fans will of course remember Bates for his famous victory over now World Cup and GP star Jason Doyle at Armadale in his formative years. Bates is now an accomplished performer and he appears to be in the form of his life just now having recorded double figures returns in both the Premier and Elite Leagues recently.

Rider Replacement operates at number 4 with Jason Garrity still suffering from a shoulder injury. The all action Droylsden racer is currently second in the Sheffield averages meaning his rides can be covered by all of his fellow Tigers.

Number 5 and another young Brit is Kyle Howarth. Despite only turning 22 this year Kyle has been about for a few years now having made his Premier League debut back in 2010. The well travelled Howarth appears to be settling into things at Sheffield and anyone who seen his performance at Peterborough in the PL fours last weekend where he raced to 5 victories and 2 second places over the 2 days can’t help but be impressed.

Senior reserve for Sheffield is young Aussie Arthur Sissis. Sissis was seen as somewhat of a coup when the Tigers announced his signing last season. We had all seen the potential Arthur had when completing second halves as a 14 year old round Armadale in times that were generally only a couple of seconds outside of race times. It appeared Sissis was lost to the sport when he decided a career in road racing was for him. Unfortunately the Adelaide man did not make the grade so reverted back to Shale and he is making progress month on month.

Fast Track reserve for Sheffield is 18 year old Nathan Greaves. Greaves is the type of rider that the fast track system was put in place for. It could be argued that without it Greaves would not be in the Premier League but he has shown steady improvement and appears to be finding his feet now.

As mentioned previously it is an unusual looking Monarchs line-up this week as we are missing Sam, Ryan, Erik and Mark. Sam and Ryan will be in Manchester racing in the World Cup race off and the Riss brothers have a German League fixture that under FIM rles takes precedence over our fixture. In normal circumstances the Monarchs may have looked for a free Friday this week but with the run of weather we’ve had so far it is imperative we get matches raced to keep up our playoff charge before the September cut off date and also to get a consistent run of Friday fixtures.

Luckily the guidelines allow guest replacements in the most part and while never completely satisfactory as the Monarchs always look to field their own 1-7 as much as possible hopefully the incoming riders will perform to the level of those they replace.

First of these guests and at Number 1 is a former league winning Monarch and currently one of the most in-form men in the league Stevie Worrall. Of course Stevie was a key part of our legendary 2014 team starting the season on a 3 point average and finishing at nearly 8. Stevie has kicked on further from there and when in full flow there are very few quicker in the Premier League.

Rider Replacement operates for Mark at number two. With Mark 5th in our averages his rides will be covered by our reserves and Michael Palm Toft who is guesting for Erik. Palm Toft is another in great form as we witnessed last Friday as he raced to paid 15 from 7 rides due to some lightning gating and solid riding thereafter.

In place of Ryan we have Peterborough captain Ulrich Ostergaard. The combative Dane is current PLRC champion and has a solid record around Armadale which we will look for him to continue against the strong looking Tigers.

So 3 guests and rider replacement means the Monarchs will have their backs to the wall as we face one of the strongest team in the league as we look to continue our recent winning run and put further space between ourselves and the teams chasing us for the play offs come the end of the season.