Speedway: Sheffield Tigers 48 Newcastle Diamonds 42

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Sheffield put in a battling display to claim a 48-42 win in the first leg of their Premier League Play-Off Quarter-Final with Newcastle at Owlerton.

The Window Centre Tigers will take a slender lead into the second leg at Brough Park on Sunday but will need a big performance on the road to keep their hopes of a first league title since 2002 alive.

Kyle Howarth, Josh Bates and guesting No.1 Ricky Wells all put in strong showings to lead the gutsy hosts to a much-needed victory.

Middle order duo Howarth and Bates gave the Tigers their breakthrough as they roared to a 5-1 in heat five – and when Wells joined Howarth at the front in heat eight they moved ten clear.

But Steve Worrall cleverly passed Dimitri Berge to win heat 11 for the visitors and cut the deficit before teenage sensation Robert Lambert blasted to the front in heat 13.

The Tigers nonetheless demonstrated plenty of fighting spirit, with Wells bravely blasting around Worrall on the final bend of heat 13 to prevent a 5-1.

Local lad Bates then squeezed through a small gap to win the penultimate race and protect their advantage.

Bates top scored with a brilliant showing, whilst Howarth also recorded three classy race wins to end with double figures.

Wells fought admirably in place of injured skipper Simon Stead, whilst French favourite Berge got them off to a strong start with a heat one victory.

Yet Arthur Sissis struggled to build on a composed heat two win at reserve whilst Nathan Greaves also struggled to make a major impact.

With Great Britain star Lambert in flying form for the visitors, it was a night when the Tigers would have no doubt been relieved to emerge with a win.

They will nonetheless face a tough task as they head to Newcastle on Sunday, needing to overcome two heavy defeats at the tricky track already this season in order to seal an aggregate victory.

SHEFFIELD 48: Josh Bates 13+2, Ricky Wells 11+2, Kyle Howarth 10, Dimitri Berge 9, Arthur Sissis 3, Nathan Greaves 2, Jason Garrity r/r.

NEWCASTLE 42: Robert Lambert 14, Matej Kus 9, Victor Palovaara 6, Ashley Morris 4+2, Ludvig Lindgren 4, Steve Worrall 4, Danny Phillips 1.