SHEFFIELD opened their 2018 campaign with a mightily impressive display, beating Newcastle 59-31 in the Championship Shield last night.
Despite being without injured star Josh Bates, the reigning second tier Champions were dominant throughout and demonstrated why they are being tipped to be strong contenders again this term.
The tie burst into action with a quintuple of 5-1s, with four of those maximums going in the favour of Sheffield Window Centre Tigers.
Likeable Australian Todd Kurtz, who missed Simon Stead’s Farewell almost a fortnight ago through illness, got dialled into the Owlerton circuit straight away, taking the chequered flag in heats one and three.
They helped provide an early four point advantage after new reserve duo James Shanes and Jack Smith conceded a max in the second race of the night after being outgated by their Diamond counterparts.
But Shanes recovered well to tuck in safely behind team-mates Lasse Bjerre and Charles Wright in the fourth and fifth respectively as the Steel City men opened up a 12 point advantage.
The best of Owlerton’s early action has seen racer’s blast around the boards and that proved to be the case in the next four heats.
First Bjerre brought the house down with a brave move in the seventh before Kurtz rounded the opposition pairing of Tero Aarnio and Ashley Morris in the eighth for a third win in four outings.
Wright made a similar move to Bjerre to claim heat nine before skipper Kyle Howarth picked off Matthew Wethers down the back straight in heat ten.
Sheffield continued to march on and secured another 5-1 from Howarth and Bjerre in Heat 13 but reserve Smith would received a major boost in the penultimate race.
After four straight last places, he made a flying start and team rode well with Wright to secure his first paid win in Tigers’ colours.
Wright then combined with Howarth for another max in the last as three home riders ended the night unbeaten by a Newcastle rider.
The Tigers begin the defence of their Championship title at home to Peterborough next Thursday (April 12, 7.30).
SHEFFIELD 59: Charles Wright 16+2, Kyle Howarth 14+1, Lasse Bjerre 11+1, Todd Kurtz 11, James Shanes 5+2, Jack Smith 2+1, Josh Bates R/R.
NEWCASTLE 31: Carl Wilkinson 6+1, Lewis Rose 6, Stuart Robson 5+1, Tero Aarnio 4+2, Matthew Wethers 4+1, Ashley Morris 4+1, Ludvig Lindgren 2.