Glasgow Tigers 51 - Edinburgh Monarchs 35
GLASGOW TIGERS fans had a spring in their step ahead of Sunday's Scottish Cup clash with arch rivals Edinburgh - thanks to the return of club legend Shane Parker.
The Aussie veteran, pitcured, might only have been wearing a Glasgow vest for one day but his inclusion was a masterstroke from Tigers management.
By the end of racing on Sunday, Parker had sent the home faithful away happy as he turned back the clock to help Glasgow open up a 51-35 first leg lead over the newly crowned Premier League champions.
Whether the 16-point advantage will be enough to secure the silverware in this Friday's second leg at Armadale is still to be seen.
But there's no doubt the Tigers are well worth their convincing lead.
Despite the weekend's torrential rain, the Ashfield track was in great shape as the sun shone for Sunday's eagerly awaited meeting.
Tigers were still minus injured number one Joe Screen and captain Lee Dicken - replaced Parker and Berwick's lively Jade Mudgeway. Monarchs were using rider replacement for Kevin Wolbert.
The action was frenetic from the start of heat one. Travis McGowan sped to victory in a re-run after Monarchs' Ryan Fisher came to grief whilst challenging McGowan for the same piece of track on the first and second turns and was subsequently disqualified. John Branney took third behind Matt Wethers for a home 4-2.
Heat two was won by Mudgeway however Jake Anderson who had led the race pulled out with bike problems to gift the Monarchs a drawn heat 3-3.
Josh Grajczonek powered to a convincing win in the third but with Nick Morris coming last another drawn heat brought the progressive scores to 10-8.
Edinburghs Andrew Tully got to the front in heat four however crashed spectacularly on the third and fourth turns and Parker ploughed into the stricken rider.
After a delay Tully was taken to hospital with what appears to be a broken arm. Parker and Mudgeway took a 5-1 in the re-run over William Lawson, who looks a pale shadow of the rider who did so well for Tigers last season. The onslaught continued in heat five with Grajczonek and Morris taking a 4-2 over Fisher, who fell again, and Wethers who as always was giving his all.
Heat six saw McGowan and Branney take a 4-2 over Tully's replacement Lawson and Ashley Morris to take the progressive scores to 23-13.
Another 5-1 in the next involving Parker and Anderson, this time over Fisher and Kalle Katajisto, was unusual in its conclusion as both Monarchs fell almost simultaneously resulting in Fisher getting back on for the point. Three rides and three falls for Fisher and Tigers in the ascendency at 28-14.
A 4-4 heat eight draw was followed by Grajczonek taking the ninth in another draw after Morris fell and was disqualified from the re-run.
Heat 10 saw McGowan also take his third win of the day with Branney third for a 4-2, progressive scores now 39-23.
Fisher streaked to victory over Parker in heat 11 and with team mate Wethers taking third the Monarchs had their first race win and heat advantage of the day! Scores now 41-27.
Nick Morris just managed to beat the two minute time allowance in the next as he had to change bikes on the start line. Grajczonek loaned him his and he duly took victory. Partner Mudgeway finished behind him for a maximum heat win which now gave the Tigers a 46-28 lead.
Heat 13 and again it was Fisher who made a lightning start to take victory over Parker and McGowan for the fifth drawn heat of the day.
Heat 14 was to be the last action of the day as Mudgeway took a very heavy fall exiting the second bend going back first into the safety fence. He was clearly in a lot of pain and was taken to hospital after a lengthy delay. The race was awarded to Katajisto with Grajczonek second and Lawson third. 2-4 Monarchs and final score 51-35.
Tigers scorers: McGowan 10, Branney 6, Morris 4, Grajczonek 11, Parker 9, Anderson 3, Mudgeway 8
Next home meeting is the Tigers final league fixture against Sheffield Tigers. Tapes up 4.00pm
Pic: Ian Adam.