Edinburgh Monarchs’ perplexing vulnerability at home came back to haunt them again at Armadale last night as Newcastle Diamonds crushed the home side 52-41 undoing the splendid job Monarchs had done at Redcar Bears just 24 hours earlier in gaining a gutsy draw.
Nobody would argue that Newcastle Diamonds fully deserved their Premier League triumph. They were totally up for the contest and were far far more hungrier than Monarchs who looked jaded and listless.
Monarchs were totally outgated and were out-muscled by the Diamonds into the first bend. This was a real speedway lesson from the visitors,who used rider replacement for the injured Christian Henry,and it might just force Monarchs to look and see whether they do indeed have seven riders’ who are fully comfortable around the Lothian Arena circuit.
The final scoreline probably flatters Monarchs as the Diamonds skipper Stuart Robson came to grief in the first heat when his team were on a 5-1, and then former Monarch Andrew Tully saw his fuel pipe come loose in his third ride which cost the Diamonds points. Robson, who by his own standards had a pretty poor evening, picking up five points from his four starts, and he said afterwards: “We always come to Edinburgh feeling we have a good chance of running Monarchs close. A lot of our team like their track and this definitely showed.”
Even Monarchs’ redoubtable No. 1 Craig Cook seemed off colour, once again he failed to win heat one and this can often be critical in galvanising the rest of the team over the course of a match, and Monarchs really need to get grip of this problem.
Cook finished with 11 points but on the odd occasions he found himself behind his Newcastle rivals, he lacked his usual fire and zip to get past them. “We are all gutted to have lost, because as I have said before, we simply should not be losing at home. The track was fine so we can’t use that as an excuse, but we need to re-focus and bounce back from this. I don’t know exactly why we seem to pull things out of the fire on the road but not at home.”
Jozsef Tabaka had a shocker at Redcar and followed this up with another less than illustrious showing from reserve. The Hungarian, who only last week picked up a 15-point maximum against Glasgow, looked all over the place and only managed three points overall. He was blatantly knocked off by Newcastle’s Chris Schramm in the back straight in heat twelve, but this should not be used as a veil to mask his poor performance.
His tail-end partner Mitchell Davey fared little better scoring just a single point and the Aussie really needs to get back in the groove otherwise Monarchs are going to leave themselves open to getting dominated by other teams in the sometimes vital reserve battles. “Just couldn’t get going,” said Davey. “It was pretty tough out on the track and Newcastle are a formidable side, but I’m confident I will get my scoring back up to where it should be.”
For Monarchs skipper Derek Sneddon, who apologised to the fans for his team’s display, it was a nightmare for him personally. He allowed himself to be overtaken far too cheaply and his three point tally does not befit his status within the side.
But he made no excuses, saying: “Without a doubt Newcastle turned in a fantastic performance and we were just not at the races. Far too many of us had an off night, and that might just be down to the fact that it has been a emotional and difficult time for the team over the last fortnight.
“We need to regroup. It might show that we ride better away from home than we do at home at the moment, but I don’t think anything should be read into that.”
Sneddon added: “Our aim for this season was to finish in the top six and make the play-offs, this is still our aim and it is something I’m confident we will achieve it despite this setback.”
For Tully, his return to his old stomping ground could not have worked out better as he joint top scored on 13 points alongside teammate Ludvig Lindgren. Tully who was never renowned for his quick starts, was all over his former teammates like a rash from the tapes.
And he joked: “Even I didn’t think I could gate as well as I did, but it was great to come back to Armadale and do so well for my new team.”
Monarchs: Cook 11, Pijper 11, Fricke 6, Vissing 6, Sneddon 3, Tabaka 3, Davey 1.
Newcastle: Tully 13, Lindgren 13, Worrall 8, Kerr 8, Robson 5, Schramm 5.