PREVIEW Sunday 17th April 2022, 1:33pm
Another day another away trip for the What the Fork Monarchs as a weekend of 3 matches in as many days culminates in Newcastle with the Diamonds providing the opposition in KO cup action.
Rob Grant's men have had an up and down start to the campaign with solid home performances being matched by abysmal away efforts that have led many to believe they may do well to avoid propping up the table unless changes are made.
The Monarchs can take nothing for granted today though and with the home men undoubtedly strengthened by the inclusion of Chris Harris guesting at number 1 for the so far ineffective Bradley Wilson-Dean then a tough task is in order if a first leg lead is to be built.
The back up to Harris will come from former Monarchs Max Clegg and Matthew Wethers. Clegg in particular looking like he is ready to become a dominant force around the Brough Park shale.
Wily veterans Paul Starke and James Wright complete the 1-5 both capable of big scores on their day and sure to provide a challenge for all the Monarchs.
The intrigue in the Diamonds line-up comes at reserve where Lee Complin shocked many by announcing his return to the support after a few years out over the winter. Bringing riders back from hiatus worked well for the Diamonds last campaign with both the aforementioned Wright and Adam Roynon enjoying successful returns to the shale and so far Complin has shown flashes of his old brilliance also.
Joining Complin at the bottom end is a newcomer to UK shale Kiwi George Congreve. Points haven't come easy so far but all reports are that the youngster is definitely worth persevering with and the diamonds faithful will be hoping today is the day he starts to find the points to match his efforts.
For the Monarchs then it is a case of dusting themselves down and going again after that heavy defeat at Berwick last night. Thankfully it appears there has been no long lasting effects to Josh or Paco after the heat 15 incident and both line up today although it would be more than likely it has been a busy night in the workshop for Pickering after his bike took the brunt of a sudden stop into the Berwick fence.
Elsewhere as all away tracks will, it will be a baptism of fire for new boys Lasse and Jacob both have acquired themselves well so far though so more of the same effort wise will see results.
Key man may well be James Sarjeant at reserve a steady start to the season for Sarj has seen paid 6 and paid 7 returns but he be looking for more on a track he enjoys and has already visited this season as part of a stoke select side for an early season challenge.
Cup fixtures mean a change in tactics with no tactical rides allowed so the Monarchs will be looking for all 7 to chip in as we look for a lead to take into next Friday's second leg.
Tapes up at 5.30pm with live updates available on the Monarchs website for those that can't make it to cheer on the boys.
Newcastle Diamonds: Chris Harris, Matthew Wethers, James Wright, Max Clegg, Paul Starke, Lee Complin, George Congreve
What the Fork Monarchs: Sam Masters, Lasse Fredriksen, Paco Castagna, Kye Thomson, Josh Pickering, Jacob Hook, James Sarjeant