Important weekend ahead for Scunthorpe Scorpions in Speedway Premier League
The Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions face old rivals Plymouth Devils at the Eddie Wright Raceway, Normanby Road, on Sunday evening (5pm) as they aim to make it nine wins from nine home meetings in the 2012 Premier League.
Once again, it’s a double feast of action, as the Scorpions match is followed by a Scunthorpe Saints v Stoke Potters National League match.
The home double header on Sunday is not the only action this weekend, as the Scorpions also travel up to Scotland on Friday night for a tricky looking trip to Edinburgh (7pm). That meeting is also a double-header, with an Edinburgh v Redcar clash following in the second half.
The Monarchs have a perfect home record in the Premier league so far – not only have their won all six home matches at Armadale, but they have won them all by 7 points or more to claim the extra third league point in each case. However, Scunthorpe promoter Rob Godfrey feels that Fortress Armadale is not completely impenetrable.
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Godfrey said: “It’s our last away match of the regular season and it’s one we’ve got to be targeting as a potential win.
“We’re talking Kevin Wolbert as a guest, who is a former Edinburgh rider; Ashley Birks flies around there; and I would say it’s a Thomas Jorgensen kind of track, because it’s a bit of a ‘turning track’. So we could be all right up there.
“Our record at Edinburgh is nowhere as impressive as we’d like it to be, but with the Monarchs losing Craig Cook to injury recently, maybe now’s our chance to improve it a little bit!”
The Scorpions will be without Nick Morris at Edinburgh. The 18-year-old is representing Australia in the World Under-21 Team Cup Final in Poland on Saturday, and will be riding in the practice on Friday.
Some league points from the Edinburgh trip would certainly help the Scorpions in their quest to finish high up in the Premier League before the commencement of the play-offs at the end of September.
Looking at the current Premier League table, fifth-placed Scorpions are sitting pretty to qualify for the play-offs. They currently have 34 points, just five points short of league leaders Somerset, who were defeated 40-50 at the Eddie Wright Raceway on Bank Holiday Monday. The sixth-place team, Ipswich, have 25 points, some 9 points short of the Scorpions’ current total.
However, team manager Richard Hollingsworth is keen for the team not to rest of their laurels and push as high up the table as possible, before the commencement of the play-offs.
In the play-offs, the top six teams from the Premier League table are separated into two mini-groups of three, with the winners of each mini-league qualifying for the final. The teams finishing first and second in the regular table pick, in turn, their opponents for the play-offs i.e. the top team picks one team from those placed third to sixth, then the second placed team picks one opponent, then the top team picks again from the two teams still to be allocated, and finally the second placed team ends up with whoever is left.
Hollingsworth said: “Of course, we’d love to finish first or second. Had we not suffered David Howe’s injury, I’m sure we could have achieved that. We still can, if all the results go our way.
“But, at the moment, we just have to take it one meeting at a time, and maximise the number of league points that we score from each meeting.
“I see the home match against Plymouth on Sunday as a meeting where we should be looking to score all three league points. Not that it’s going to be easy; the Devils have two of the best riders in the entire league in the shape of Ben Barker and Ryan Fisher.
“But we also have a pretty formidable spearhead, led by Josh Auty, who is riding on the crest of a wave after last weekend.
“Josh was inspired after being reserve at the British Grand Prix at Cardiff, and his maximum against Somerset was peerless; he was a class apart, and with Jason Doyle in the opposition ranks, that’s no mean feat. When he made the gate or not, it didn’t matter. He calmly worked his way through to the front. It was perhaps the most complete performance we’ve seen from Josh around the Eddie Wright Raceway since he started here as a 15-year-old in late 2005.”
Sunday sees a new riding order for the Scorpions.
Hollingsworth explains: “With the issue of the September Green Sheet averages, Josh will be moving to the No 1 spot on Sunday, but judging by the performance against the Rebels, he will take that in his stride.
“Josh replacing David Howe at No 1 in our averages has prompted a reshuffle in the team. On Sunday, we will use rider replacement for David at No 2, while Thomas Jorgensen moves to No 3 and Nick Morris to No 5. Thomas put in a superb performance at Somerset in the pairs, and we have no qualms about placing him in a heat leader position. Likewise we have no doubts that Nick will cope will riding in the tough No 5 position vacated by Josh.
“With Ash (Birks), Michael (Palm Toft) and Gary (Irving) also capable of banging in the points, we are pretty solid at the Eddie Wright Raceway. But we can’t let our guard down at any point, because this is a highly competitive league, and any complacency will be punished”, Hollingsworth stressed.
Sunday’s adult admission price for the double-header is £16.
Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions:
1. Josh Auty, 2. David Howe R/R, 3. Thomas Jørgensen (Denmark), 4. Ashley Birks, 5. Nick Morris (Australia), 6. Michael Palm Toft (Denmark), 7. Gary Irving.
Plymouth Devils: 1. Ben Barker, 2. Todd Kurtz (Australia), 3. Cory Gathercole (Australia), 4. James Holder (Australia), 5. Ryan Fisher (United States), 6. Jake Anderson (Australia), 7. Ben Reade.
Jotun Paints Scunthorpe Saints: 1. Byron Bekker (guest), 2. Tommy Fenwick (Scotland), 3. Tom Young (Wales), 4. Max Clegg, 5. Gary Irving. 6. Danny Phillips, 7. Oliver Greenwood.
Stoke Potters: 1. Ashley Birks, 2. Richard Andrews, 3. Tony Atkin (Wales), 4. Ben Reade, 5. James Cockle, 6. Liam Rumsey, 7. Liam Carr.