Speedway Report: Sheffield Tigers 57 Ipswich Witches 33

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Sheffield sent out a warning to their Championship rivals with a classy 57-33 over Ipswich at Owlerton.

Both sides have been well backed to challenge for silverware but Tigers proved too strong in this showdown.

Even without reigning British Under-21 Champion Josh Bates, whose partner was taken into labour just hours before the clash, the Owlerton outfit still managed a more than comfortable victory in a thrilling contest.

After No.1 Josh Grajczonek almost spun it on bend two, the Tigers conceded a 4-2 in the opener with guest Mark Riss splitting Witches duo James Sarjeant and Danny King.

Guest Riss took his first race win of the night in the next before ex Tiger Nico Covatti stormed to victory in heat three.

But the Tigers took the lead when Kyle Howarth flew away from the tapes in heat four, but it was teenage reserve Jack Parkinson-Blackburn who rode superbly to fend off former Australian international Rory Schlein for a big 5-1.

Back-to-back 4-2s followed before captain Howarth made it two out of two with another quick get away.

After another dominant start from Todd Kurtz and Riss, the Tigers moved ten points clear.

That enabled the Witches to nominate Schlein for double points, but Lasse Bjerre and Kurtz outmuscled the Aussie in the opening bends to nullify the tactical ride with a second consecutive 5-1.

While Grajczonek eased to a second straight win in the tenth, all the action was going on behind him in a thrilling last lap battle for third.

Riss scraped the boards before shooting up the inside of Heeps, but the visiting No.4 screwed it on and blasted his way back around the Tigers guest on the run to the line.

While British Champ and Ipswich No.1 Danny King was lucky to walk away from crashing heavily into the air fence in heat 11, it was down to Riss and Heeps to battle it out in a thrilling heat 14.

Exchanging places throughout, it looked as though Heeps was about to hold out for the win but Riss charged to the finish line to total 14+1 in a super performance from the guest.

Tigers face the tough trip to Newcastle on Sunday before hosting Peterborough at Owlerton next Thursday.

SHEFFIELD 57: Mark Riss 14+1, Kyle Howarth 12, Josh Grajczonek 11+1, Lasse Bjerre 10, Todd Kurtz 8+3, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 2+1, Josh Bates R/R.

IPSWICH 33: Nico Covatti 11, Rory Schlein 5, Cameron Heeps 4+2, James Sarjeant 4, Connor Mountain 3+2, Danyon Hume 3+1, Danny King 3.