Thursday September 28, 2017
SHEFFIELD produced a show of grit and determination to emerge from their Grand Final home leg with a 53-37 win over Ipswich - but there's concern over No.1 racer Josh Grajczonek.

After crashing at Glasgow on Tuesday, the Aussie ace was passed fit ahead of the clash with the Witches at Owlerton.

He went out and won his first ride with ease, but aggravated knocks to his back and hip as he took avoiding action behind former Tiger Nathan Greaves in Heat Six.

Grajczonek was ruled out of the remainder of the meeting by paramedics and he will now face another late fitness test ahead of Saturday's second leg.

But two other riders who found themselves on the treatment table on Tuesday were able to battle their way through - and impressed in the process.

Barnsley born racer Josh Bates pulled off a series of stunning outside blasts to secure four race wins from his five outings.

In two of those, he was joined by Lasse Bjerre out front as they contributed two important early 5-1 maximums for the Sheffield Window Centre Tigers.

Kyle Howarth stepped up to his captain's role superbly, producing hugely important race wins in Heats 13 and 15.

Jan Graversen was paid for double figures at reserve for a fourth home meeting in succession while Todd Kurtz chipped in with a solid seven points.

Georgie Wood also made a key contribution by winning heat two on a tense, yet thrilling night in the Steel City.

By the interval, despite the loss of Grajczonek, the Tigers were able to build up a 14-point lead.

But the visitors came back out fighting and closed the gap to just eight points courtesy of back-to-back heat advantages.

That prompted a response from the hosts though, who rounded off the first leg with three races in their favour to ensure they hold a 16-point advantage ahead of Saturday's deciding leg at Foxhall (7.30).

Tigers team manager Simon Stead said: "That was a great show of character throughout and I think it summed up what this group of riders are about.

"They dug deep, they never gave up and they battled for every single point.

"It was another solid team performance and the boys did themselves and everyone else proud with the way they rode.

"Ipswich have got a very, very good line-up and we knew we needed to be at the top of our game to gain a decent lead from the first leg.

"16 points it is. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.

"The boys gave it their all tonight but they know there's still a lot of hard work to be done in this tie yet."

SHEFFIELD 53: Kyle Howarth 13+1, Josh Bates 13, Jan Graversen 7+4, Lasse Bjerre 7+2, Todd Kurtz 7, Josh Grajczonek 3, Georgie Wood 3.

IPSWICH 37: Danny King 9+1, Nathan Greaves 9, Rory Schlein 8, Cameron Heeps 6+1, Kyle Newman 4, Tom Bacon 1, Justin Sedgmen R/R.

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