SHEFFIELD Tigers kept their Premier League top three hopes alive with victory over a feisty Ipswich Witches - but they had to work hard for all three points.
The Owlerton side got off to a flier in front of a big holiday crowd when Shane Parker and Hugh Skidmore sped from the tapes in the opening race, while Josh Auty and Ashley Birks carded a 4-2 in heat four to prise open a six-point margin.
But the Witches battled back and Aussie duo Kevin Doolan and Taylor Poole notched their only maximum of the night in the fifth and from then onwards it was nip and tuck until the latter stages.
After nine races Tigers led by only five points, needing six to claim the bonus to keep them hard on the heels of league leaders Glasgow.
But with Auty in magnificent form, going through the card for a five-ride maximum, and Parker in equally good nick, both winning several races from the back, Sheffield remained in control and led 43-34 going into the final two heats.
The bonus point was sealed when Emiliano Sanchez, who had had a torrid night up to then, shot from the start in the penultimate race and Simon Lambert partnered him to the flag for the home side’s second 5-1 to stretch the lead to an unassailable 13 points.
Star of the show Auty wrapped up his own full-house when he shot past the lively Dane Lasse Bjerre at the end of the first lap in the finale, with Ricky Ashworth in third place.
It was a solid all-round display from the Tigers against a side many fancied to upset the Owlerton apple cart, Ashworth joining new skipper Parker on double figures. Bjerre – the brother of Grand Prix star Kenneth -was Ipswich’s top rider with 11.
Tigers return to action on Thursday September 8 at home to mid table Rye House Rockets.
TIGERS: J. Auty 15, S. Parker 10, R. Ashworth 10, H. Skidmore 6+1, S. Lambert 4+2, A. Birks 4, E. Sanchez 3.
IPSWICH: L. Bjerre 11, M. Tressariu 7+1, K. Doolan 6, M. Risager 5+2, J. Hart 4+1, T. Poole 4+1, C. Mills 0.