PREVIEW Friday 19th July 2019, 12:00pm
It's the end of a busy week for the Staggs Bar Monarchs on Friday evening as we take on the Somerset Rebels in SGB Championship action.
The Monarchs come into the meeting buoyed by a battling point at league leading Leicester on Wednesday night but with a home defeat already on our record we can afford no more slip ups at home should we be to make the playoffs.
The Rebels will prove no easy pushover and after returning to the Championship division this year it is good to see what was once a powerhouse clash back on the fixture list. The Rebels and Monarchs faced off in back to back Playoff Finals in both 2013 and 2014 both sides taking glory once, add to that various other cup finals and some well remembered tussles at the Oak Tree Arena in front of the sky cameras and there is an excitement in the air for this fixture.
That excitement is stoked further by the return to Armadale in a Monarchs race jacket of Sam Masters who makes his home debut after being brought back into the fold this week, further down the line-up Matt Marson will also make his competitive debut round the Dale although he did race in the support races of the Scottish open this year impressively winning all of his heats.
The Rebels have made a solid start back in the second tier and as it stands sit third in the table, the team had a top heavy look to it at the start of the season with a top 3 of Rory Schlein, Chris Harris and Nico Covatti leading the way. All 3 have had solid seasons although Covatti has just returned from a spell out with injury and Harris misses out on a trip to Armadale as he will be in Russia ready to represent Team GB in this weekend's Speedway of Nations final. Berwick's Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen steps in and the Dane is always a competitive visitor to Armadale.
Elsewhere the second strings are made up of the experienced Todd Kurtz and relative unknown to the UK when signed Valentin Grossauer. Both of who have done their jobs well, in fact Grossauer could be mentioned as one of the newcomers of the season with an average currently in excess of 6 for the season the most impressive bit of this being that his away form has been better than his home.
With such a wealth of experience and strength at the top end the reserve berths were always going to be filled with inexperience with the Rebels going for two local youngsters who had been showing up well in the National League in Anders Rowe and Henry Atkins. As has been the case with most of the reserves stepping up from that level they have struggled at times but both are acquitting themselves well and have increased on their starting averages not least Rowe who has doubled his.
So it is a mix of experience and youth that make the long journey north to face the Monarchs with everyone looking forward to the battles between Rory and the Monarchs heat leaders particularly.
Sam made as good a return as it is possible to do with an immaculate 15 point maximum at Leicester on Wednesday and he was well backed up by Josh in particular with the two Aussie's heat 15 5-1 clinching the point.
Willie Lawson showed up well in his first match in the main body of the team while Ricky and Cameron will be looking for a little more but are more than capable and have shown good form at home all season.
Connor has been trying his heart out in all matches and with a little more luck this will turn into a big points haul shortly while there will be no pressure on Matt on his home debut.
A titanic tussle looks in store with the rivalry renewed, can the Monarchs carry on the improved form shown at Leicester or will Somerset improve their own playoff chances with a win?
There is only one place to be to find out and that is trackside.
See you there!