PREVIEW Friday 29th June 2018, 11:00am
Everyone agrees that this weekend's Knockout Cup ties could go either way on aggregate, and it seems to be the classic Top-heavy team v Solid team. Time will tell if that's how it plays out.
From the point of view of the Staggs Bar Monarchs, clearly we have to look to Ricky Wells and Erik Riss to produce their usual high level of performance in both legs. Were anything to go wrong for either of them, it's hard to see where we would get the points to compensate.
That doesn't mean the others are not important because of course two riders can't win a 30-heat speedway contest. We are looking for everyone to step up, we need points from new boy Victor Palovaara, from our middle pair of Josh Pickering and Mark Riss, and from our new reserve pairing of Joel Andersson and Max Ruml.
There's no denying that it is disappointing to find both Joel and Max falling from their starting figure of 5.2 to the minimum of 4, with their true figures even lower. But rather than dwell on that, we need to take advantage of having these two at reserve. Joel's form has been improving, and it's time for Max to pick things up as well.
In that middle pair, neither Josh nor Mark can claim to be consistent enough to be called a heat leader yet, but between them they should be solid. How Victor will do on his debut on borrowed machinery, is even harder to judge.
Of course in all this speculation over what everyone might do, the Bandits play a part. They are not there to lay down and gift us points.
Aaron Summers has in recent times tended to be a mix of wins and lasts over an evening, he needs to improve on that kind of showing and maximise the victories. His partner Kevin Doolan we can probably assume will do well.
Jye Etheridge would love to put one over on us, obviously, since we left him out of our side a couple of seasons back in the most highly-publicised team change ever (they are still going on about it). So far he hasn't really punished us at Armadale. His partner David Howe was once one of the most consistently excellent visitors and he can still win heats.
Nikolai Busk Jakobsen is a good gater so we will need to keep him under pressure in the early stages of his heats. Austrian reserve Dany Gappmaier also gets out of the traps well though he has not yet shown his ability at Armadale.
Nobody knows the circuit better than Theo Pijper, and we know what he can do. He can gate too, and then he will go just fast enough, looking back at every turn, to stay in front. This is his 194th meeting at the track.
Berwick are strong at home with seven regular race winners in their side. Therefore we are looking for a lead well into double figures to take to the borders tomorrow. Every point will count tonight which will make it a meeting worth being at.