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The first of Sam's three wins over Cookie Image Credit: Peter Hill

Great performance at Ashfield

REPORT Sunday 1st May 2022, 9:02pm

by Mike Hunter

The What the Fork Monarchs regained a lot of lost pride at Ashfield this evening, performing far better than they had in the home fixture, and in spite of the absence of James Sarjeant. The final score of 46-44 represents one of their best away displays for a long time.

Leading the way inevitably was Sam Masters, with an exceptional 6-ride paid maximum, but everyone did their bit in a fightback which saw us come from 12 down at heat 8 to force a last heat decider. Both Josh Pickering and Kye Thomson performed like high-class heat leaders and everyone else was pushing for points.

Team manager Alex Harkess said "They did very well, they were very unfortunate early doors. Lasse got excluded in heat 1 for touching the tapes which he never did, even the starting marshal said he didn't touch them. He was brought off in his second so he had no points and he was feeling worse for wear.

"But we picked him up and he got a good point in his last ride. Jacob also did well, and loaned his bike to William for heat 14.

"Once again once we turned the page we were a different team! And we had Sam winning every race, and Josh looking like he was going to win every race. And Kye was winning races as well. We had six of the last seven race winners.

"We just ran out of match. If there had been another couple of races I'm sure we would have won. If we'd had James Sarjeant I'm sure we would have won.

"There are not many teams who will come to Ashfield and score 44 points. But – we were disappointed to only score 44 points! And we had them rattled.

"There was only one race where Sam didn't really make the gate, and he passed them down the back straight. All of our riders made starts at some stage but some of them didn't hold it in the early part of the meeting.

"It makes such a big difference when you have someone winning races. By doing that Sam is dragging the rest of the team along with him. The minute they start to think they are letting the rest of the team down, they try twice as hard."

Monarchs get a point which probably few expected, but more than that, they will surely be able to build confidence from this tremendous display and send a message to the rest of the league that we are still a team to be reckoned with.

We hadn't performed badly over the first half of the match, but a heat 8 5-1 reverse put us 18-30 behind. We made the move to bring Masters in alongside Pickering in heat 9, and cleaned up a 5-1 over Basso and Ostergaard.

Kye Thomson then beat Craig Cook to share heat 10, then Sam took his fourth race win with a fine point for Lasse Fredriksen taking a good point from Nicol. Just six down now.

We shared heat 12 keeping Bailey at the back, then the big guns were out in heat 13. Sam beat Craig Cook to make it five out of five, and Josh took the point to bring us to four behind, a position held by Kye's win in heat 14.

So amazingly after our heavy defeat at home on Friday, we had forced a last heat decider at Ashfield, and we went very close as our top two took another 4-2, Josh just missing out to Cook on second.

We can speculate what the score might have been had James Sarjeant's partner not gone into labour on what was the correct day. Best wishes to them of course, it is more important than a speedway match, but how we wish James had been with us!