Sheffield Tigers blow SGB Premiership title race wide open after shock win over Peterborough

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Sheffield blew the Premiership title race wide open with a stunning 51-39 win at Peterborough on Monday.

Both sides have already qualified for the play-offs but the Panthers were widely fancied to win the meeting to secure top spot in the table and gain choice of opponents in the semi-finals.

They may still do that as their last meeting is at home to bottom club King’s Lynn on Thursday, but the Tru Plant Tigers have added much intrigue to the mix, whichever of Peterborough or current leaders Wolverhampton get that choice.

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It was a performance which showed exactly what Tigers are capable of, and why they could still challenge for the title in their first season of Premiership racing, as they took quick revenge for a 40-50 home defeat to the same opposition at Owlerton last Thursday.

Josh Pickering and Kyle Howarth in action for Sheffield. Picture: Charlotte Flanigan.Josh Pickering and Kyle Howarth in action for Sheffield. Picture: Charlotte Flanigan.
Josh Pickering and Kyle Howarth in action for Sheffield. Picture: Charlotte Flanigan.

British Champion Adam Ellis was in terrific form with three race wins, and it would have been four but for an unwanted lift off the second bend in Heat 6 which allowed Panthers guest Thomas Jorgensen through.

Meanwhile No.1 Jack Holder was involved in two crucial 5-1s, and there were contributions right down the order in the perfect away display.

Holder and Troy Batchelor set the ball rolling with a 5-1 in the opening race, and Tigers maintained that lead with some competitive action, including a fine pass by Ellis as he got inside Hans Andersen on the third lap of Heat 4.

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The hosts briefly levelled with successive 4-2s, but Sheffield regained the advantage in Heat 7 as captain Kyle Howarth held off home star Chris Harris with Josh Pickering supplying third place.

Rising star reserve Danyon Hume then rode superbly to join Batchelor for maximum points in Heat 8 as the hugely experienced Danish duo of Bjarne Pedersen and Andersen were eclipsed.

Heat 10 was another key turning point as Pickering defeated the Panthers’ tactical substitute rider Michael Palm Toft in a close finish whilst Howarth added third place just ahead of Jorgensen.

The hosts narrowed the gap to six points in Heat 12 as Palm Toft came through the field to take a fine win, but Tigers quickly wrapped up the meeting through Ellis and Holder in Heat 13.

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And all four league points were guaranteed in the penultimate heat with Pickering’s second win and third place for Hume, who had held second over Scott Nicholls for much of the race.

Delighted boss Simon Stead said: “I just feel like we’ve not quite had the rub of the green for the last few meetings, injuries upset our balance, but we’ve come back fighting and really our season starts now.

“It’s been so frustrating because I’ve felt like we’ve had the right people in, but we’ve just not all fired at the same time, and tonight has just proved what a force we can be when everything goes right.

“We’ve ridden well, there’s talk that maybe we caught Peterborough on an off-night, but we’ve ridden well and the atmosphere in the team is really good. It’s set us up really well for Sunday and the important fixtures that are coming up.”

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Tigers will discover their play-off opponents after Thursday’s Peterborough/King’s Lynn fixture, and they wrap up their regular league campaign at home to the Stars on Sunday (5pm).

PETERBOROUGH 39: Michael Palm Toft 13, Scott Nicholls 7+1, Chris Harris 5+2, Jordan Palin 5, Thomas Jorgensen 3, Hans Andersen 3, Bjarne Pedersen 3.

SHEFFIELD 51: Adam Ellis 13, Jack Holder 9+2, Josh Pickering 8+1, Kyle Howarth 8, Troy Batchelor 7+1, Danyon Hume 5+1, James Wright 1+1.