PREVIEW Thursday 23rd August 2018, 11:00am
With just over 3 weeks to go until the Playoff cut off the Staggs Bar Monarchs start the biggest weekend of their season so far with a trip to Sheffield on Thursday evening.
With matches running out and the Monarchs currently sitting just outside the playoff positions it is getting near crunch time and with away points still required it can realistically be said that the trip to Yorkshire must result in points for the Armadale men or it will leave an uphill struggle if they are to finish in the top 4 once again.
With away matches at playoff chasing Glasgow and Workington remaining after this and Sheffield's current position at the foot of the table having not won a match since the beginning of July many are tipping the Monarchs to be victorious.
There are reservations about tagging the Blue and Gold as favourites though as on paper Sheffield have a strong looking septet and it is a mystery to many how they find themselves in their current predicament.
Led by a strong looking heat leader duo of Charles Wright and Kyle Howarth and well backed by Todd Kurtz who normally rides the Owlerton circuit like a number 1 as well and there should be a good platform to build on. Anyone in attendance at Armadale last week can see the obvious talent and skill of Kasper Andersen and James Shanes who both were excellent and with Connor Mountain introduced at reserve where he will partner Broc Nicol who will be looking for the confidence boost a reserve spell can bring then there is no obvious weak spots in the line-up.
That being said the Tigers are on a horrific run particularly at home where the last 4 fixtures have all resulted in losses by 14 points or more and the Monarchs will need to hope this is playing on their minds going into the fixture also although as this is the last home league fixture of the season Simon Stead's men will be looking to go out on a high.
For the Monarchs it is a case of looking to carry on the home form we have shown recently with comfortable victories the norm. We could not take anything from our last away match at Berwick and there are a few who will need to up their game away from Armadale to ensure a result this evening.
Ricky Wells is a former Sheffield 1 and certainly knows the quickest way around the sweeping bends but improvement on previous showings will be required by Erik and Richie to back our number 1 up. Both are in fantastic form though and should take that confidence into the meeting rather than any trepidation on previous results. As always we will look for the back-up from Victor and Josh who both appear suited to Owlerton if in very different ways. Victor with his sharp gating and smooth style and Josh with his never say die attitude sweeping round the boards. Key for the Monarchs chances could be at reserve where we at last need Joel and William to match their home counterparts.
So a crucial fixture lies ahead and one that if the Monarchs can take a victory in it would truly boost our playoff chances being as it would put us ahead of all our rivals for the remaining playoff spots on away points gained and give us a great platform to build on ahead of the huge derby matches this weekend.
Can the boys do it? Keep an eye on the Monarchs website to find out.