Speedway: Bandits given a royal roasting

Berwick BANDITS had an outside chance of qualifying for the League Cup semi-finals had they toppled Edinburgh Monarchs at Armadale last night. But the Border outfit found their Capital hosts in dominant mood and were easily beaten 59-33 in a fairly one-sided encounter.

Some of the Bandits team simply did not perform to their capabilities and this allowed Monarchs to power to a far more comprehensive victory than some had envisaged.

Monarchs simply had too much firepower for the Bandits and both Theo Pijper and Andrew Tully, who lost his No. 1 status this week, raced to paid maximums.

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Pijper in fact could have secured a full five-ride full house if he had won the heat 15 top scorers’ race, but partner Tully made it clear he wanted the chequered flag for himself and had no intention of allowing his Dutch teammate to cross the line in front of him despite the fact that both the Monarchs stars were miles ahead of their Berwick rivals, Lee Complin and Sebastian Alden.

Not that Pijper made any big deal of it afterwards. Pijper has been in sizzling form since rejoining Monarchs this season and his lightning starts from the tapes reminded everyone of why he was a former track record holder round the Lothian Arena. He is certainly enjoying a purple patch of class and said: “Although the track was pretty slick, I was making good starts and I’m pretty happy with my form right now, I don’t know how long I can keep this going, but I’m certainly enjoying my speedway at the moment.”

With Derek Sneddon and Charles out injured, Monarchs drafted in Byron Bekker to replace Wright and used the rider replacement facility to cover for Sneddon. This gave Aussie ace Dyer extra rides and the 21-year-old responded in style by notching up a highly creditable ten-point haul, which included two race wins over Adam McKinna and Jason King in the second race, and then defeating King again, and David Bellego, in heat 14. Dyer linked up in that race with skipper Matthew Wethers for a deserved 5-1 advantage, the match already won by that stage.

Dyer’s endeavour earned him the Monarch of the Match award and he said: “This is what you always want to work towards and I think I can go forward from here.”

Although Berwick handed Alden and No. 1 Ricky Ashworth tactical ride outings, it mattered little and made no impression on the big lead Monarchs had already accrued.

Tully and Pijper both scored 14 points and were unheaded by an opponent but Craig Cook who took over the mantle of top dog under new averages issued this week, couldn’t quite manage to emulate the unbeaten status of Tully and Pijper. Cook, who was beaten by Alden in heat 6, still managed to notch up 11 points and reached a personal milestone by clocking up 500 points scored for the Capital side since he was first signed.

However teammate Wethers, who pitched in with nine points, is still battling to overcome a dip in form which must be troubling him to a certain degree. Wethers was mounted on some old equipment following the failure of brand new machinery to propel him to bigger scores.

The racing was processional at times but this was interspersed by some exciting flashes of brilliance. However the Bandits were pretty feeble visitors and had it not been for Ashworth and Alden, and Lee Complin, it could easily have been a whitewash. They host Monarchs in tonight’s return tie at Shielfield Park.

Monarchs: Tully 14, Pijper 14, Cook 11, Dyer 10, Wethers 9, Bekker 1.

Berwick: Ashworth 9, Complin 7, Alden 6, Bellego 4, King 4, Tomicek 3, McKinna 0