Newcastle Diamonds faced their toughest test of 2014 last night when unbeaten Edinburgh Monarchs visited Brough Park last night – and it was a thriller which went down to the last race.
Danny King dealt the first psychological blow over his England International team mate Craig Cook by winning heat one.
Tensions mounted at the gate in heat two when Danny Phillips went down hard, causing his partner Steve Worrall to fall.
In an all-four re-run Oliver Greenwood, Newcastle’s guest reserve for Chris Schramm, and Chris Mills jetted away to lead but off bend two former Worrall shot round the second bend to go from third to first - where he stayed in another shared 3-3.
Derek Sneddon destroyed the tapes in heat three with Worrall in as replacement.
However, it was Lewis Kerr who made the perfect start to lead with his skipper Stuart Robson jetting round to join him up front and ,despite frantic chasing from Worrall, the home side hit a maximum 5-1.
Ludvig Lindgren ended up under the air fence having crashed, but was allowed back in. However, it was Sam Masters who led from the gate with Lindgren passing Worrall off bend two, but come bend four the Edinburgh reserve had re-passed the Diamond in an away 1-5.
In heat six, King shot through the tapes to receive a 15-metre handicap in the re-run but, despite making up massive ground on lap one, passing Phillips and eventually his partner Greenwood, he was too far behind Masters to make a difference.
Mills jetted from the gate in heat seven and took the lead, while behind Lindgren wound on the power to fly round both Sneddon and Max Fricke on the second bend of the second lap but half a lap later nearly clattered into the leading Mills. A vital 5-1 taking the score to 23-19.
Heat eight was as much a disappointment as heat seven had been a triumph with Sedgmen and Worrall taking the advantage from the gate.
However, Kerr forged on and shot round Worrall on the second bend on lap two, only for the Monarch to take advantage of an Kerr error to regain the second place.
However, in his efforts to get back on terms he fell on the second bend of the last lap to allow the away 1-5 to go unopposed levelling the match again 24-all.
Robson and Kerr managed to find the drive on bend two of the ninth to pull away from Masters to again launch the Diamonds into a 29-25 lead.
However, at the second attempt at heat nine Greenwood was challenging hard between Cook and Sedgmen when Cook nudged the Diamonds’ guest, who fell on the third bend with the referee instantly hitting the red lights and excluding Cook.
In the three-man re-run with Lindgren well out in front Greenwood was trying a brilliant-looking pass round Sedgmen, but lost control and hit the fence hard but cleared the track - leaving the way for a 3-2 to make it 35-30 with four races left.
Mills, battling well at the back in heat 12, suffered a seized engine.
Robson took the win to hold Newcastle’s slender five-point lead going into heat 13, in which Cook and Sedgmen roared away to lead over King and Lindgren.
The marauding Monarchs hit the 1-5 into the totals to narrow the gap to 39-38.
Worrall and Sneddon made the best gate in heat 14 to leave Kerr floundering but he battled on and passed Sneddon on the second lap to restrict the Monarchs to a 2-4 - but with one heat to go Edinburgh had regained the lead by one point.
In the final race Cook made the gate with Robson and King taking Masters on lap one, but Cook was away to win, in the fastest time of the season at 62.1 seconds.
Newcastle: Danny King 11, Lewis Rose - Rider replacement, Stuart Robson (captain) 12+1, Lewis Kerr 7+3, Ludvig Lindgren 6+1, Chris Mills 6, Oliver Greenwood 2+2
Edinburgh: Craig Cook 11, Justin Sedgmen 6+1, Max Fricke 5, Derek Sneddon (captain) 2+1, Sam Masters 9+1, Aaron Fox 0, Steve Worrall 12+3