REPORT Saturday 20th April 2019, 1:05am
No-one expected am easy match for the Staggs Bar Monarchs tonight, and it wasn't, but the eventual 51-39 win over Newcastle Diamonds had several encouraging aspects as well as the fact that it was Monarchs' first win of the season.
Justin Sedgmen's wins in heats 8 and 10 were perhaps the catalyst for victory in a match which was level after 7 heats. He said "It was obviously good to get these couple of wins. I had broken down in my second race after making the gate in that one as well, but I burnt out the clutch and the bike just went slower and slower. But we got there in the end.
"Heepsie's leading from the front, Wellsy's leading from the front, and when you see someone putting in as much effort in his races as Josh Pickering does, it spurs everyone on."
Everyone in the side had at least some good moments. Ricky Wells was back to his relaxed, confident best, Cameron Heeps continues to excel and Luke Ruddick is riding above himself and impressed everyone with his tenacity in picking up four good points.
William Lawson started slowly but finished well, Joel Andersson clinched the match victory and not for the first time, the most thrilling heats involved the battling Josh Pickering pulling off some amazing overtakes.
And then there was Justin Sedgmen. He has come back to regain the standards he set in 2014-5 and everyone wanted to see him at his best. He was a bit fortunate to get a point in heat 1 after a sluggish start, and while he was going well in heat 6 lying second to his partner till the final lap, that burnt out clutch brought him to a halt and lost him and the team vital points.
Whether that gave him the extra impetus to get himself going, he then stormed to victory in heats 8 and 10, helping to turn the match. In the latter race, after Sedgy had gated, Ricky Wells slotted neatly in behind him and took care of the Diamonds' pair of Bjerre and Wethers which looked like tough opposition.
From that point on there was only one winner. Two 4-2s to finish with ensured no points for the Diamonds. None of this had looked very likely when the visitors led 11-7 after three races, having provided all the heat winners and gating far more sharply than the Monarchs.
In the end the only consistently impressive Diamond was Thomas Jorgensen, the only one of their heat leaders not to win his first heat. Reserve Max Clegg also scored well (and seems to be gating better than he did in Monarchs' colours) but 6 points each for Worrall and Bjerre after winning their first rides was surprisingly low.
Home fans will remember the match for the solid performance of the team but also for three spectacular races from Josh Pickering which deserve extra comment.
The race of the night was heat 9 in which he passed and re-passed with Thomas Jorgensen in a memorable battle which will certainly feature in this year's Race of the Season competition.
Three heats later he was faced with Jorgensen again as a tac sub alongside Bjerre, and even though Josh gated well off the inside he messed up the first turn after hitting the kerb. Nevertheless a race long chase brought him a second place after a bold pass on Bjerre.
And he was at it again in heat 15, catching and passing Steve Worrall. Quite sensational from the Aussie. It didn't win him the Monarch of the Match award though because Ricky Wells imperious display won that award, and Cameron Heeps would also have been a contender after three superb wins had he not then got stuck at the rear in heat 13.
Overall though, a highly successful night for the Staggs Bar Monarchs who now look forward to Sunday's Shield match at Newcastle.