PREVIEW Thursday 24th August 2017, 9:20am
It's a short trip down the A1 to Teesside tonight as the Parsons Peebles Monarchs take on the Redcar Bears in Championship action.
With the playoffs fast approaching this has the potential to be a huge match in how the final standings end up.
The two clubs currently sit 4th and 5th respectively and with only the top 4 having the chance to lift the trophy at the end of the season this match takes on even more importance.
The Parson Peebles Monarch currently sit 5 points ahead of the Bears and if they were to head north with the spoils tonight it could be the final nail in the coffin for the Bears hopes. Of course if the opposite rings true this would give the Bears a big boost and close the gap even further going into the remaining matches.
Redcar have an inconsistent home record so far this season with excellent victories like that recorded against Glasgow last Thursday when undermanned being matched by 4 home defeats and a home draw.
The Monarchs have already visited Teesside this year and put in a tepid display being defeated 52-40. On that night we didn't have the back up to Sam and Erik to properly challenge and with Sam missing this time the rest of the boys know they will need to step up.
Ty Proctor once again deputises for our injured captain and as a former Bear we will be hopeful of a repeat of his previous visit where he recorded 3 race wins on the way to an 11 point haul.
Another change to the Monarchs racing order sees Josh and Max flip positions with the new average dictating a spell at reserve for Clegg. A drop to reserve acted as a lightning rod for Max earlier in the season and a repeat of that would give a nice balance to the side as Josh appears to progress week on week so a return to the top 5 shouldn't faze the Aussie.
Mark appears to have returned from injury with no real issue having recorded paid 16 over two meetings for Wolves as they mailed Kings Lynn in a double header in Norfolk last night so all in all we appear set to do battle.
The Bears are at full strength with injury problems for Jason Garrity and Tobias Busch appearing to have subsided. They will be led by a resurgent Ben Barker who has rolled back the years this season increasing his average to over 8.5.
Barker is always well backed up by Garrity, Charles Wright and Jonas B Andersen and with the powerful reserve pairing of Busch and Danny Ayres it is no surprise they are up their challenging for the playoffs as well.
As mentioned previously this is a huge match for both sides and whoever comes out on top will have a great boost as they go in hunt of that vital 4th place.