NEWS Saturday 13th April 2019, 1:03am
The Staggs Bar Monarchs finished 20 points adrift of Wolverhampton in their opening night challenge match which at least got us off the launch pad for the new season.
Monarchs were certainly happy with the debut of Cameron Heeps and he said "I always enjoy coming here. I felt I rode well against good guys – I'm pleased. I could have done with making more starts but that will come. I feel like it's time in my career for stepping up."
As for the scoreline, we can make some allowances, certainly. Wolverhampton even with Nicholls missing are a very strong side and they also had the benefit of having ridden three meetings as a team (one abandoned). But it would have been good to have pushed Wolves just a bit closer – their riders were probably a bit surprised the match wasn't more closely contested.
We will be working hard to get it right of course and if we look for the favourable things in our performance, they stand out like beacons.
Heeps on his Monarchs' debut looked a definite force, winning two heats and pressing hard in the heats he wasn't leading. He attacked the track and it is easy to see how he has already done well at Premiership level this year.
Josh Pickering gave us his usual spectacular efforts with one victory and four second places, chasing for all he was worth after anyone who got in front of him. His gating looked better too.
Luke Ruddick was the other Monarch to match expectations at number 7, leading most of the way in heat 2 against Ashley Morris and Nathan Greaves before slipping back to third, and beating Greaves fair and square in heat 12. Luke gets out of the traps well and looked comfortable.
For the others we will have to say – it was opening night and things can only get better. We are obviously looking to Ricky Wells for the high scores which have usually flowed freely for him, but he is taking time to get into his stride this season with some erratic gating.
Justin Sedgmen, Joel Andersson and William Lawson will need to produce more and it would be nice if they started doing so in time for Sunday's KO Cup tie at Scunthorpe!
Before then Justin guests for Somerset at Eastbourne on Saturday and says "I just need more laps!"
The Wolverhampton riders all had a points spree with old friends Rory Schlein (15 point maximum) and Sam Masters (13) leading the way.