The Parsons Peebles Monarchs lost their unbeaten home record going down 51-39 to the Sheffield Tigers at Armadale on Friday night.
The bigger blow for the Monarchs though is the loss of Sam Masters with an early diagnosis of a badly broken collarbone and a visit to hospital ahead while like all speedway riders Sam will be back as soon as he can this is a bitter blow for the recently named Australian GP wildcard and of course the Monarchs.
The incident happened in an ill feted heat 13 when after the Monarchs had gated on a 5-1 Chris Harris had battled his way pat Masters into second. Masters was attempting to regain 2nd when he locked up with Kyle Howarth left with nowhere to go but into the prone Aussie to make matters worse the Tigers took full advantage with a 5-1 in the re-run.
The hosts had started well enough and had built up a 6 point lead by heat 4. Masters taking the chequered flag in heat 1 with Theo Pijper picking up a solid third. A pair of shared heats were followed by a big 5-1 for the Monarchs after Kyle Howarth had touched the tapes. Mitchell Davey doing well to hold onto second after a tremendous effort from Howarth to come from the 15 metre handicap.
A handful of shared heats followed as the Monarchs could note shake off the visitors and this was to prove costly as the earlier fortune of heat 4 was to reverse in heat 10. That man Masters was leading with Pijper in third when coming out of the 4th bend of the 1st lap Masters ground to a halt. This meant what had looked like an 8 point lead was in fact only 4.
This lead was to disappear just one heat later when Todd Kurtz and guest Chris Harris rocketed from the tapes and with Harris protecting his partner expertly for four laps it
was all square.
By this point the visitors had gotten to grips with conditions and were routinely ahead into the first bend. The Yorkshire men took the lead for the first time in heat 12 with the impressive Josh Bates leading from tapes to flag and Jan Graversen ahead of Mitchell Davey for third.
The aforementioned 1-5 reverse in heat 13 meant the Monarchs were 6 down and were looking for a great escape. This was not to come though as Bates once again made the trap to take the win in heat 14 despite Josh Pickering’s gut busting efforts. At the back a third place for reserve Jan Graversen ahead of the ineffectual Max Clegg meant that not only was the match now Sheffield’s they were on the hunt for the full 4 points that comes with an away win of more than 6 points.
This was duly delivered as Harris and Howarth were once again sharper from the tapes in the last heat and the rout was complete.
This was a deserved victory for the visitors and one that took them to the summit of the table and they have certainly laid down a marker for the rest of the league.
For the Parsons Peebles Monarchs this will act as a wakeup call and with further tough tests to come the Monarchs will be looking to rebound quickly although all thoughts are with our captain tonight.
Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||2||R||Fx||5||0|
|2. Theo Pijper||1||1*||2||2||6||1|
|3. Ricky Wells||3||3||2||2||0||10||0|
|4. Max Clegg||0||0||1*||0||1||1|
|5. Erik Riss||3||3||1||1||1||9||0|
|6. Josh Pickering||3||0||0||2||5||0|
|7. Mitchell Davey||0||2*||1*||0||3||2|
Team Manager: Simon Stead
|1. Chris Harris||2||2||2*||3||3||12||1|
|2. Todd Kurtz||0||1*||1*||3||3||8||2|
|3. Lasse Bjerre R/R||0||0|
|4. Josh Bates||2||1*||3||3||3||12||1|
|5. Kyle Howarth||1||3||2||3||2*||2*||13||2|
|6. Jan Graversen||2||0||0||1||1||1||5||0|
|7. Georgie Wood||1*||F||0||1||1|
After an elongated break caused by the British GP and last week’s rain off it’s back to Championship action on Friday as the Parsons Peebles Monarchs welcome once again the Sheffield Tigers.
Sheffield have been one of if not our toughest visitors so far this season having been defeated by only 4 and 5 points in their two visits and they will be hoping it’s third time lucky as they look to leave with the points.
Many (including myself) had tipped the Tigers to win the major honours this year and in fact they finished top of the Speedway Star pre season poll as most likely league winners (although this is the same poll that famously never tipped the Monarchs to be top in any of our league winning campaigns so take from that what you will) and after a slow start to the season where a mixture of indifferent away form and a lack of home meetings meant they never got into their stride the Yorkshire men are now firing on all cylinders and look a virtual certainty for the playoffs barring a late season collapse in form.
The basis of this success has been in the improvement of some of the younger members of the team in backing up the established stars at the top end and as is often the case with young teams they appear to be getting stronger as the season progresses and having recently added Jan Graversen and Georgie Wood to solidify the bottom end the Tigers will be looking to be involved in all competitions right till the bitter end this season.
One man who has been key to the Tigers this season is number 1 Josh Grajczonek. Unfortunately for the fourth time this season (including the Scottish Open) I am writing about the absence of Josh although this was to be expected when Josh also signed for Somerset in the Premiership another Friday night outfit. What a guest the Tigers have secured though in his absence. Stepping in is a man who is 3 time British Champion, a former world number 6 and British Grand Prix winner in the form of Chris Harris. Harris of course is a recent addition to our league having signed for Peterborough and is showing his class pretty much everywhere he goes. Harris does have previous Armadale experience from his formative days in the sport and if he adapts as you would expect then his battles with our top end will be something to behold with his all action round the boards style.
Number 2 is Todd Kurtz. Kurtz would probably (and I believe has openly admitted) that Armadale is not his favourite track but it shows the measure of his character that he will still come and give it his all. Kurtz is a fast starter and that has the ability to hold him in good stead and in actual fact on his last visit he did record a heat 8 win. If he can take the confidence from that to turn in a big performance this week the Monarchs may well be in trouble.
An entertaining and powerful middle order is spearheaded by Lasse Bjerre. Sheffield have benefitted from a dreadful year for Bjerre at Redcar last season when to be honest there were times it did not appear his heart was in it. That heart has certainly returned this year as Lasse has made a mockery of his starting average. A noted Armadale performer Bjerre missed the cup match at the start of the season but returned for the league fixture recording an 8 point haul including a win in his last outing and if he carries that form into this week it could go a long way to a Tigers victory.
Joining Bjerre in the middle order is young Englishman Josh Bates. Bates is making good progress in the sport and although I’m sure I mention it every time I talk about him is perhaps still best remembered at Armadale for heading Jason Doyle back when Bates was still only a National League rider. Bates had his best ever Armadale meeting in the cup earlier in the season when he recorded a paid 11 score and the Tigers may well point to his absence in the first league fixture as to why they did not claim victory as with Bates missing his stand in James Sarjeant could only muster 2 points a total that most would have expected Bates to supersede quite handily.
Star of the show for the Tigers on both their visits this season and for my money the most impressive visitor to our track is at number 5 in the form of Kyle Howarth. Howarth has recorded 14 and 13 point tallies in his two visits this year looking fast and controlled throughout. If Howarth hits the front there is almost no catching him so the Monarchs heat leaders will need to have their gating gloves on if they are to head the Ashton born man.
As previously mentioned a reshuffle has taken place recently at reserve where former Monarch Rob Branford was forced out due to a shoulder injury and a permanent replacement was found for Jack Parkinson- Blackburn who had decided to step down from the Championship. Replacing Branford is experienced Dane Jan Graversen. Now 30 Graversen has been a familiar face on British shores since his debut with Mildenhall in 2008. Graversen started the season with Premiership side Somerset but after they re-jigged their team found himself on the sidelines. This has been to Sheffield’s advantage as the former Rebel has averaged over 7 points a match in his short spell so far.
On the other end of the experience scale is number 7 Georgie Wood. Wood was a late comer to Speedway having made his debut for Eastbourne in the National League back in 2015. Wood has progressed year on year in the National League and now sports an average in excess of 8.50 in that division. The move to the Championship has not fazed the Maidstone born racer as he has impressed in all his outings so far. Although there is a vast difference between his Championship home circuit of Sheffield and Armadale his Eastbourne experience will stand him in good stead and we cannot take anything for granted when up against him this Friday.
So a powerhouse visiting septet that in my mind poses the toughest challenge we have faced to date this season at Armadale and the mighty Monarchs will definitely need to be at the top of their game.
Fortunately it appears that this may be the case as the recent form of the majority of the team has been promising. Sam continues as one of the top men in the league and while not 100% fit it appears the knock taken at Newcastle last week is not overly serious. Ricky will be a lot happier with himself after his efforts at Newcastle and the confidence that it appears his engine woes are behind him can only be a good thing as the season heats up. Erik is continuing to show his true potential (although he still gives me fits he will miss the 2 minutes in pretty much all his races) and at the bottom end Josh has found the mojo he had at seasons beginning. Mitchell and Max continue to do their job and Theo is trying everything to right his form and become the dependable scorer we all know he is capable of being.
All in all we are set for a riveting night of speedway as two of the league’s top teams go head to head, who will come out on top well there’s only one way to find out and that’s to get yourself trackside. As is becoming far too much of a regular occurrence unfortunately I will not be there to join you as I will be in the air flying home from London as the meeting takes place (do you think if I have a quiet word with the pilot he’ll radio ahead for updates for me?) but be assured as soon as I am back on terra firma the first thing I will be doing is checking the score at Armadale and hoping our boys have done us proud. If they have you may just hear the cheer at the Dale!
Friday 4th August 2017, 9:25pm
Sheffield defeated the Parsons Peebles Monarchs by 51 to 39 at Armadale on Friday night. Erik Riss and Ricky Wells scored 10 for the Monarchs and Kyle Howarth had 14 for the Tigers.
Wednesday 2nd August 2017, 1:46pm
After a 3 week gap SGB Championship action returns to Armadale this Friday when the Parsons Peebles Monarchs take on the Sheffield Tigers