Sheffield Tigers charge into Premiership play-off spot with King’s Lynn victory
Sheffield charged into the Premiership play-off places with all four league points from a crucial 49-41 win at King’s Lynn on Monday.
The TruPlant Tigers’ first away win of the season could not have been better timed, especially as top-four rivals Ipswich were heavily beaten at Belle Vue.
And with the spectacular Josh Pickering confirming a maximum haul at the Adrian Flux Arena by passing Thomas Jorgensen in Heat 15, Sheffield now move above the Witches on race points difference – and also have four matches in hand.
The value of the recent team changes was clear for all to see in Norfolk with Pickering showing just why he has been one of the most talked about riders in the Championship ahead of his recent step up, as he collected paid-13 with a string of exciting rides.
Meanwhile Stefan Nielsen produced a highly useful paid-eight on his debut, and combined with Pickering to surge inside Ricky Wells for a Heat 8 5-1 which put the visitors fully in control.
For Pickering, it was a second maximum advantage as he had already combined with Jack Holder in Heat 5 to turn around an early deficit, but the Australian’s best was yet to come.
Tigers led by six points after Heat 10 but faced the Stars’ strongest duo in the next race as Richard Lawson came in for a tactical substitute outing along with Jorgensen.
Holder led from the off, but Pickering stunned the home crowd by first blasting around Lawson and then reeling in and diving inside Jorgensen for a 5-1 to virtually put the match beyond the home side.
Those contributions, and wins for skipper Kyle Howarth in Heats 10 and 14, were very much needed because the Tigers’ heat-leaders all had plenty to contend with.
Holder, back after his recent smash in Poland, rode through the pain barrier and was only beaten in Heat 1 from his four outings, but Adam Ellis was withdrawn with a knee injury after a heavy Heat 9 crash when he lifted and hit the fence on the exit of turn four.
Meanwhile Troy Batchelor was also clearly struggling for full fitness as he lost positions late in races and had medical treatment after the meeting, so Tigers will need to await updates before they visit Ipswich tomorrow.
It all meant second-strings Pickering and Howarth had to go in Heat 15 and avoid conceding a 5-1 for maximum league points – which looked likely to happen for a time until the ultra-determined
Pickering forced his way past Jorgensen to make it a perfect night.
Manager Simon Stead said: “I think we were pretty convincing. When you look down the one-to-seven, we had everybody doing their job.
“It was a really good, solid display, and one that I’ve always felt has been in there. For one reason or another we’ve just not been able to show our true form until now, but I’ve always felt this was something we were capable of.
“Perhaps a bit more firepower at reserve helped, but I’m really happy with the performance. We knew if we were going to progress our season, we needed to look at taking four points here, and it’s a great start to the week.”
KING’S LYNN 41: Richard Lawson 12, Thomas Jorgensen 9+1, Lewis Kerr 8, Erik Riss 6+1, Ricky Wells 4, Connor Mountain 2+1, Cameron Heeps 0.
SHEFFIELD 49: Josh Pickering 12+1, Jack Holder 9+2, Kyle Howarth 8+2, Troy Batchelor 7, Stefan Nielsen 6+2, Adam Ellis 5, Danyon Hume 2+1.