Gladiators edge The Monarchs

The Plymouth Westcolour Gladiators continued their unbeaten Championship League Home record with a hard fought 48-42 victory over the Edinburgh Monarchs in front of an excellent Jubilee Bank Holiday week crowd at a sunny Coliseum Stadium last night.

The victory cemented the Westcolour Gladiators place in the top 4 in the Championship League with 22 Points and with 6 Clubs progressing to the Play-Offs strengthened the cushion to 9 points ahead of the 7th placed Oxford Cheetahs who have raced 2 Matches more. Indeed, had the Westcolour Gladiators not been denied a bonus point in  the Away Match at Glasgow by some bad luck on the night, they would be sitting joint top of the Table on 23 points jointly with Leicester, Poole and Glasgow. That’s a terrific testimony to the fact that the vibrant Westcolour Gladiators are punching well above their weight and the expectations of all in British Speedway so far this season.

In a tight tussle the Gladiators took the lead in Heat 1 with the rapidly improving Alfie Bowtell leading home the Leagues top rider Sam Masters, who would go on to be unbeaten by a Gladiator for the rest of the night, in a very fast time of 50.18 seconds. A 5-1 to the impressive Ben Morley and the improving newcomer Harry NcGurk in Heat 2 and another 4-2 Heat success from Ben Barker and Michael Palm-Toft in Heat 3 opened up an 8 point advantage at 13 points to 5 points that would be the bedrock of the ultimate success.

With Heat 4 and 5 both shared at 3 points each, the Monarchs played their available tactical substitute card (available to either team on one occasion per match if they are 6 or more points behind), and bought in Sam Masters to partner Josh Pickering, on current form probably THE most potent pairing in the Championship League and their resultant 5-1 success over Bowtell and a completely off colour Chris Harris, reduced the deficit to 4 points overall. A somewhat surprise 5-1 success for the Monarchs in Heat 7 from Paco Castagna and Kye Thomson over Hans Anderson wiped out the Westcolour Gladiators early lead and levelled the scores at 21 points each.

Westcolour Gladiators fans have become used to the dynamic duo of Ben Morley and Alfie Bowtell, who have been teammates previously at Lakeside, Eastbourne and Kent delivering in the key Heat 8 and once again they rose to the occasion with a superb 5-1 Heat success. This revitalised the Westcolour Gladiators with Ben Barker and Michael Palm-Toft roaring to a 5-1 of their own over the previously very fast and impressive Pickering in Heat 9, to restore the 8 point early lead at 31 points to 23 points.

Heat 10 was shared 3-3 but the Monarchs would simply not lie down and again roared back with a 5-1 from Masters and the very impressive James Hook, whose earlier efforts had not gained the points they possibly deserved bringing the scores to 35 points to 31 points at that stage with 4 races left. With the Monarchs able to field the dynamic Masters and Pickering partnership in two of those Heats (13 and 15) the Westcolour Gladiators knew that it was all still to play for.

The Westcolour Gladiators wrestled back the momentum and initiative though with Barker and Morley delivering a vital 4-2 Heat win in the 12th race and with Anderson and Harris blocking the ever threatening Pickering to share a momentous Heat 13, the 6 point advantage was maintained with 2 races remaining. Palm Toft and Morley duly won the match on the night with an excellent 5-1 in Heat 14 to send the large Crowd into raptures and that proved a key result as Masters and Pickering showed their undoubted class with a 5-1 to the Monarchs in a pulsating heat 15.

That ensured that the Westcolour gladiators took all of the 3 points available to them as the Home team but the redoubtable and hugely entertaining Monarchs left with a well deserved losing bonus point for the 48-42 reverse having provided a wonderful night of Speedway entertainment for the Bank Holiday Crowd.

The Westcolour Gladiators were superby led by the two Ben’s, Ben Barker with 12 points from 5 rides and Ben Morley with 10 points and 2 bonus (Bonus points are paid points for following home a team mate for a Heat advantage but don’t count in the overall score), Alfie Bowtell was again outstanding with 9 points form his 4 rides and if a little below their best the Westcolour Gladiators Danish duo of Michael Palm-Toft and Hans Anderson chipped in with vital points at key times and young Harry McGurk did his job as a reserve in getting that 5-1 heat success in the second Heat, with Club management surely delighted with his progress. 

Guest Chris Harris had a rare off night but tried 100% as always and it’s certainly a measure of the Clubs progress that with their 3 Heat Leaders all below their best that the overall strength of the Team can come to the table and deliver such an impressive victory.

The Monarchs were superby led by Sam Masters with 16 and a bonus from 6 rides and ably backed by Josh Pickering and Kye Thomson and young Australian Jacob Hook, on his Coliseum debut certainly showed glimpses of his massive potential. 

The sport of Speedway was the winner on the night with two well matched Teams fighting for every point in a truly sporting encounter with the Monarchs winning many friends in the South West and we wish them well on their trip eastwards to Poole tonight.

The Westcolour Gladiators are in action again NEXT Tuesday against the Birmingham Brummies and the CHILDREN Under 16 scheme will again be in operation and Match Tickets are available ONLINE here with a reminder that CASH + CARD payments are available at the Turnstiles on the night.

The Clubs NDL side the SWTR Centurions are in action at Oxford this evening and we’ll have a preview later today once we have confirmation of both Clubs line ups.

Don’t forget your NEXT slice of Speedway heaven each Tuesday at 7 is next Tuesday 7th June at 7.00pm v Birmingham Brummies, its sure to be exciting so please bring a friend to hold on to.

Plymouth Gladiators = 48

1. Chris Harris (G) – 1, 0, 1’, 1’ = 3+2

2. Alfie Bowtell – 3, 1, 3, 2 = 9

3. Ben Barker – 3, 2, 3, 3, 1 = 12

4. Michael Palm Toft – 1, 1’, 2’, 3, 0 = 7+2

5. Hans Andersen – 1’, 1, 1, 2 = 5+1

6. Harry McGurk – 2’, 0, 0 = 2+1

7. Ben Morley – 3, 2, 2’, 1, 2’ = 10+2

Edinburgh Monarchs = 42

1. Sam Masters – 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2’ = 16+1

2. R/R for Lasse Fredriksen (JH – 0, BT – 0, KT – 1, JH – 2’) = 3+1

3. Kye Thomson – 2, 2’, 1, 3, 0 = 8+1

4. Paco Castagna – 0, 3, 0, 0 = 3

5. Josh Pickering – 3, 2’, 1, 0, 3 = 9+1

6. Jacob Hook – 0, F, 0, 0, 2’, 2, 1 = 5+1

7. Ben Trigger (G) – 1, 0, 0 = 1

Heat Results

Heat 01: Bowtell, Masters, Harris, Hook 4-2, 50.18

Heat 02: Morley, McGurk, Trigger, Hook 5-1, 9-3, AWARDED NO TIME

Heat 03: Barker, Thomson, Palm Toft, Castagna 4-2, 13-5, 50.87

Heat 04: Pickering, Morley, Andersen, Trigger 3-3, 16-8, 51.56

Heat 05: Masters, Barker, Palm Toft, Trigger 3-3, 19-11, 50.31

Heat 06: Masters, Pickering, Bowtell, Harris 1-5, 20-16, 51.28

Heat 07: Castagna, Thomson, Andersen, McGurk 1-5, 21-21, 52.19

Heat 08: Bowtell, Morley, Thomson, Hook 5-1, 26-22, 52.15

Heat 09: Barker, Palm Toft, Pickering, Hook 5-1, 31-23, 50.84

Heat 10: Thomson, Bowtell, Harris, Castagna 3-3, 34-26, 51.22

Heat 11: Masters, Hook, Andersen, McGurk 1-5, 35-31, 51.81

Heat 12: Barker, Hook, Morley, Thomson 4-2, 39-33, 53.18

Heat 14: Palm Toft, Morley, Hook, Castagna 5-1, 47-37, 52.46

Heat 15: Pickering, Masters, Barker, Palm Toft 5-1, 48-42, 51.97

Courtesy of Speedway Updates

Image credit: Jon Sproad.