Edinburgh Monarchs kick-start Championship Shield campaign but stronger tests await

Edinburgh Monarchs got their Championship Shield campaign off to a winning start by defeating Newcastle Diamonds at Armadale tonight.

Heat  3: Josh  Pickering  goes between Matthew Wethers and Lasse Bjerre. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Heat 3: Josh Pickering goes between Matthew Wethers and Lasse Bjerre. Picture: Ron MacNeill

Monarchs finally polished off the Diamonds 51-39 but will almost certainly require a win in the return fixture at Brough Park tomorrow, or at Berwick or Glasgow to have a chance of qualifying, and that is assuming they don’t slip up at home.

The Bandits are the current pacesetters wth ten points from their three matches so far following their on the road triumph against Newcastle a fortnight ago.

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Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “I’m happy with the eventual outcome, we made life difficult for ourselves early on, but we got over the line in the end.”

The Diamonds, with three former Monarchs in their team, Max Clegg, Steve Worrall, and Matthew Wethers, shocked Edinburgh in the opening heat when they gated in a 5-1 position, but a mistake by Simon Lambert on the fourth bend, allowed Monarchs’ top pair Justin Sedgmen and Ricky Wells to rescue a 3-3, but they couldn’t stop Worrall from winning in style, an indication of how tough it was going to be for the home outfit.

Monarchs’ supposedly potent partnership worryingly looked off the pace and Sedgmen in particular must start improving soon, time isn’t on his side.

And that was underlined when Newcastle stormed into the lead with a 4-2 from Clegg and Danny Phillips in the second race, a verdict they repeated in the next race to move four points in front, 11-7.

But Cameron Heeps and Luke Ruddick hit back with a 4-2 for Monarchs in heat four, race winner Heeps said: “It was a good win for me and it’s just nice to keep the ball rolling, I’m pleased with my start to the season.”

And Monarchs levelled the scores 15-15 in the next race with a 4-2 from Josh Pickering and Joel Andersson and Monarchs had woken up at last.

Sedgmen, who suffered an engine failure in his second ride, finally won his first race in heat eight and with Luke Ruddick claiming third place, this timely 4-2 put Monarchs into the lead for the first time in the match, 25-23.

And Monarchs increased their lead to four points in heat nine with a 4-2 from Josh Pickering and Joel Andersson. And Sedgmen and Wells clinched Monarchs first 5-1 of the match in the very next heat stretching their advantage to eight points, 34-26, to give them some much needed breathing space.

Despite Newcastle gleaning a 4-2 in the 12th race, Monarchs held on for a hard fought victory to get their Championship Shield adventure up and running.

Monarchs: Wells 13, Pickering 11, Heeps 9, Sedgmen 7, Andersson 5, Ruddick 4, Lawson 2.

Newcastle: Jorgensen 13, Clegg 8, Bjerre 6, Worrall 6, Wethers 5, Philips 5, Lambert 0.