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Monarchs Look For A Lead

PREVIEW Friday 28th April 2017, 10:30am

by Graham Muncie

This week the Parsons Peebles Monarchs host the Sheffield Window Centre Tigers in what has now turned into the first leg of our KO Cup clash.

Thursday night’s attempt at what was originally scheduled to be the first leg was called off early doors so rather than knowing what we need to do to progress we now go in search of as big a lead as possible against the highly fancied Tigers.

While we all know nothing is won on paper Sheffield did come out on top of this year’s Speedway Star pre season prediction poll and with a blend of up and coming riders and top of the order experience it is easy to see why.

Sheffield perhaps haven’t started the season as they would have liked as despite being dominant round their home shale they are yet to pick up anything from their travels and this is something they will be looking to change sharpish.

As appears to be the case weekly the Tigers travel north with a changed line-up this week with 2 of their normal 7 missing. First of these comes at number 1 where Josh Grajczonek misses out due to his Premiership commitments with Somerset. In his place comes Glasgow’s Richard Lawson. Lawson has made a fine start to the season with an average in excess of 9 points so far. While he is not always the best round Armadale he now appears to have found his way with multiple double digit scores to his name and a semi final place in the recently hotly contested Harrisons Scottish Open he will be more than a match for our top boys.

Number 2 for the Tigers is former British under 21 champion Josh Bates. It is hard to believe that Bates is only 21 as he appears to have been around for a few years now and steady progression year on year has been his trademark so far. Few who witnessed it will forget his outstanding victory over Jason Doyle while guesting for the Monarchs a couple of years ago and the tenacious Barnsley born racer is another who will cause us problems tonight.

Lining up at number 3 is Aussie Todd Kurtz; Kurtz has had somewhat of a nomadic career in the UK with spells at Newport, Coventry, Plymouth and Somerset to his name. The move to Yorkshire appears to be agreeing with Todd though as his average so far this season is more than a point higher than at the start of the season, he also has a decent track record round the Dale with a high score of paid 11 to his name in his 10 visits.

Rider replacement operates for Lasse Bjerre who misses out due to Danish commitments. Bjerre is third in the Tigers averages meaning al bar Richard Lawson can take an extra ride.

First of two ex-Monarchs in the line-up is at number 5 in Kyle Howarth. Kyle appears to be in the form of his life just now and is making good on the potential we could all see he had when he was a Monarch back in 2011. Currently sitting with an average in excess of 8 points on the season the Ashton born racer is looking to take the next step in his career and become a consistent top line rider in the second tier and with the experience of more than 20 previous Armadale visits under his belt he will be another to look out for tonight.

Second of the ex-Monarchs is Rob Branford. A much liked Monarch back in our 2015 Championship winning team Rob was a victim of circumstance last year as the reserve rules meant we had to choose between him and Max when ideally we would have liked to have tracked both. A determined rider who always seem s to save his best for the big heats Branford appears to have sorted out some of the issues that led to inconsistency in the past and still only 23 he is looking for a big year at both Championship and Premiership level where he rides with Ricky Wells at Rye House.

Number 7 in the Tigers line-up and youngest of the lot is hotly tipped Jack Parkinson-Blackburn. Nothing makes you feel older than when a rider who was born in the 2000’s comes a calling and that is the case with 16 year old Jack. Widely regarded as a steal on his 2.00 starting average this season the youngster is making steady progress and while this is his Armadale debut with the talent and potential he has he will no doubt take to our track like a duck to water.

So that’s the visitors what about our home Parsons Peebles Monarchs, another fantastic weekend for the team last week as we came back from a sluggish start to romp to a 16 point victory at Scunthorpe this leaves us sitting proudly atop the SGB Championship table. It is a busy spell for the boys with Ricky and Mark starting their doubling up commitments which of course Sam and Erik already have. Max has been picking up guest bookings and rode in the British under 21 final on Wednesday and Mitch’s National League commitments are starting to pile up. Ask any speedway rider though and they will tell you they would rather be racing every day than not so our boys all seem to be on fine form as we look to take a big an advantage as possible to Yorkshire whenever the second leg may be.

Gates open at 18.30 with tapes up at 19.30 in what is sure to be another cracking encounter at the Dale. See you there!