REPORT Saturday 27th July 2019, 1:33am
The revised Staggs Bar Monarchs' team started with an ultimately solid win over Berwick tonight by 52-38, inspired by the return of Sam Masters but with excellent contributions throughout the side.
Cameron Heeps in fact matched Masters' contribution of 13+1 and said afterwards "It was a good all-round team performance and nice to get a good win. It was a bit of a shame for Sam and I to lose our maximums in heat 15 but dropping one point to the opposition isn't bad. I felt like the pressure was off me a bit tonight with Sam coming in, he's really good rider."
There's no argument that the Armadale mood was probably the best it's been all season and Sam Masters wasted no time returning to winning ways in the blue and gold. Fiercely determined to the first corner in most heats, he also pulled off a brilliant move to go round tactical sub Aaron Summers in the opening lap of heat 10.
There was only a 2-point gap at heat 8, and still only 6 points with three heats remaining, but two 5-1s at that point ensured that Monarchs took all the points. Masters and Heeps powered clear for a heat 13 5-1 and then Connor Coles joined Ricky Wells for a maximum advantage in the penultimate heat, captain Wells allowing the youngster to take his first Monarchs' race win.
Amongst other highlights Heeps started with an excellent win from the back in heat 4, bursting inside Coty Garcia who started the meeting as though he was going to be a real force.
William Lawson was another one doing some overtaking, chasing and passing Garcia in heat 8 after Connor Coles had been controversially excluded in the first running. From an admittedly distant viewpoint it seemed that Coles passed Jye Etheridge going into the third turn, and stayed on the inside line, but was blamed when Etheridge came down.
Ricky Wells was smooth and quick all night, while Josh Pickering after a couple of dodgy heats to start with (including a heat 5 fall) came good in his last two outings. As always Josh joined in the overtaking by weaving his way past both Bandits in heat 9. Aussie Matt Marson just managed a single point but took the opportunity to come out along with Lawson for some post-match practise after his home debut for the team.
Aaron Summers was top Bandit, Garcia and Etheridge their other race winners, but the visitors gradually slipped out of contention.
Monarchs have been aware of a lack of heat winners but with 11 tonight to Bandits' 4, no complaints in that department after the return of Sam to Armadale.