Luckless Edinburgh Monarchs lost skipper Erik Riss after just one ride against Newcastle Diamonds in their Championship League clash at Brough Park last night.They never really recovered from the loss but battled bravely in the second half as the Diamonds ran out comfortable winners, 53-37. It followed a defeat at Berwick 24 hours earlier. Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “I thought it was a very spirited performance by us especially after losing Erik early on. I thought we put things together in the second half and we just ran out of races. But we certainly matched Newcastle as the match went on.” And Harkess praised the efforts of Josh Pickering, adding: “Josh was the only rider to pass on the outside, the rest of the team tended to ride with their eyes shut. It was a much better display from Josh.” Monarchs were hoping to atone for their poor home display against Newcastle at Armadale on Friday but they found themselves ten points down after just four races. The Diamonds signalled their intentions in the very first heat when Stuart Robson and Ludvig Lindgren romped to a 5-1 over Monarchs No.1 Ricky Wells and Joel Andersson. Wells was struggling with a virus at Berwick but looked on top of his game in this match. Newcastle then grabbed their second 5-1 of the match in the fourth race when Tero Aarnio and Matthew Wethers outpaced Monarchs captain Erik Riss who took a heavy tumble on the third bend at speed and was excluded from the rerun which the Diamonds pair won from the gate against Max Ruml who was last, despite winning his first race in the second heat. At this stage Newcastle were 17-7 in front. Riss was attended to by medical staff and withdrew from the meeting, a huge blow for the Capital outfit after the German ace had completed less than four laps of his opening ride. Wells stemmed the tide to a degree for Monarchs by winning the fifth race to earn a share of the spoils for the visitors. It was only a temporary relief as Monarchs succumbed to another Robson and Lindgren 5-1 in the sixth heat which increased Newcastle’s lead to 25-11. And it didn’t getting any better for Monarchs as Newcastle simply piled on the agony with a 4-2 in the seventh race before Robson and Wethers racked up Newcastle’s fourth 5-1 verdict of the match against Joel Andersson and Ruml in heat eight to lead 34-14. Monarchs at this point seemed incapable of mounting any kind of fightback. In desperation Monarchs handed Wells a tactical substitute ride in heat nine replacing Coty Garcia. And it paid off with Wells winning the race and with Andersson claiming third place, Monarchs scored a 4-2 which reduced their arrears to 18 points for what was their first heat advantage of the night. Pickering then won the tenth race for a 3-3 but Diamonds were still very much on top leading 39-21. It was a glimpse of the Pickering of old as he rounded Robson with a great outside pass to take the chequered flag in some style. And Monarchs grabbed their first 5-1 of the match in heat 11 when Wells and Andersson defeated Aarnio and Carl Wilkinson to cut Newcastle’s lead to 40-26. The Monarchs duo gated and what a difference this made. And Pickering stormed to his second victory of the meeting by winning the 12th heat for a share of the spoils which maintained Newcastle’s comfortable lead. Wells romped to his fourth race win of the night in heat 13 for another 3-3 and Monarchs were proving to be sturdy opponents if nothing else. But Newcastle, however, scored another 5-1 in heat 14, a heat which has cost Monarchs so dearly at Armadale, to increase their lead again to 18 points, 51-33. This time it was Ruml and Mark Riss who lost out to Ashley Morris and Wilkinson. And Monarchs ended on a high note with a 4-2 in the last race. Wells won it to finish with a magnificent 16 points and Pickering was third, and he ended up with a much improved nine points, but Diamonds still took the match spoils easily. On Saturday Monarchs concluded their Championship Shield qualifying campaign going down to a heavy 53-37 thumping at Berwick Bandits. Only Erik Riss and Wells rode with any great credit notching up 25 points between them. The rest of the Monarchs team were simply not at the races. Promoter John Campbell said: “I was disappointed but not surprised at the result after Friday’s night’s show. Some of our riders are not doing very well at the moment.” Asked if there will be possible changes to the Monarchs line-up in the coming weeks, Campbell replied: “There’s a shortage of riders at the moment. We will keep on looking to see if there is somebody else out there who is better than what we have got. If not we will hopefully see better performances from those who are in the team at the moment.”
Newcastle: Robson 11, Lindgren 9, Kus 7, Morris 7, Aarnio 7, Wilkinson 6, Wethers 6.
Monarchs: Wells 16, Pickering 9, Andersson 4, M Riss 3, Ruml 5, Garcia 0, E Riss 0.