Speedway: Newcastle Diamonds 46 (88) Sheffield Tigers 44 (92) - Sensational Tigers roar into Play-Off semi-finals
Super Sheffield stunned Newcastle at the death to book their place in the Premier League Play-Off semi-finals.
The tenacious Tigers travelled to Brough Park without four of their top five riders and carrying a slender six-point lead after the first leg at Owlerton.
Having twice been thrashed at the venue this season, many expected another heavy defeat for the depleted Owlerton outfit. But they pulled off a miraculous 92-88 aggregate success, with guest Ricky Wells and star man Kyle Howarth prevailing in a tense last-heat decider to keep their title dreams alive.
The duo saw off Steve Worrall and Ludvig Lindgren in dramatic fashion in the final race, and although they went down 46-44 on the night it was still enough to see them secure a semi-final spot.
The visitors suffered misfortune early on as a fall for Robert Branford caused heat three to be stopped whilst Lewis Kerr was leading.
The Diamonds promptly struck a 5-1 in the rerun on their way to an early lead to quickly tie things up on aggregate. Yet Wells and Howarth stormed clear in the next two races before Howarth sliced underneath Ashley Morris to join Kerr at the front in heat seven.
After moving two ahead on the night, the Tigers were pegged back by a controversial exclusion for Branford as he came down when battling with Morris at the back in heat eight. But they continued to fight hard to avoid last places and hold on to a slender, four-point aggregate advantage heading into the final two races.
With tension mounting, the home side roared clear to tie things up in the penultimate heat.
Howarth and Wells, however, flew from the tapes and held their nerve to deliver one of the most impressive results in Sheffield’s recent history.
Battling Brit Howarth, who stood in as skipper for the injured Simon Stead, was in breathtaking form as he notched paid 16, whilst guests Wells and Kerr also added double figures.
Aussie young gun Arthur Sissis contributed a crucial five points with a gutsy showing at reserve, whilst Branford also added a vital four on a memorable night.
NEWCASTLE 46: Steve Worrall 10, Ludvig Lindgren 9+1, Ashley Morris 8+2, Matej Kus 6+1, Victor Palovaara 6, Stuart Robson 5, Danny Phillips 2.
SHEFFIELD 44: Kyle Howarth 15+1, Ricky Wells 10+3, Lewis Kerr 10, Arthur Sissis 5, Robert Branford 4, Nathan Greaves 0, Simon Stead r/r.
Sheffield win 92-88 on aggregate.