A rejuvenated Richard Hall romped to a superb maximum to inspire Sheffield to the semi-finals of the Premier League Cup as they overcame Leicester 51-39 at Owlerton last night.
The little-fancied Tigers needed to gain all three points available to pull off a shock and qualify at the expense of their opponents, and true to their recent form they did just that.
The visitors won a tight encounter on their own circuit two weeks ago but they never looked like repeating that at Owlerton, where Sheffield took control from the off thanks to victories for Facundo Albin and Jake Knight.
They raced in to an early lead but could never pull away, the Lions keeping it to just four points until two 4-2’s in three races mid-meeting put Sheffield eight ahead and on course for the points they needed.
Successive heat advantages of their own brought Leicester back into contention, and it looked as if it was going to come down to the final races. With Sheffield duo Simon Stead and Richard Hall both unbeaten it always looked like the home side had the edge and so it proved.
Stead, who looks to be in a class of his own back in the Premier League, and Ricky Wells secured a heat 13 5-1 and then maximum-man Hall won the next race to put Sheffield 10 points ahead and on the verge of qualification.
Hall and Stead teamed up in heat 15 to hand the Tigers a 12-point victory and an unlikely spot in the final four, where they will look to continue their excellent early season form.
n Sheffield: (Hall 15, Stead 12+1, Wells 9+1, Albin 7, Knight 5, Haines 2, Koppe 1).