Thursday June 03, 2021
SHEFFIELD’S heat-leader trio gave a power-packed display to head up a 49-41 win over Wolverhampton in Thursday’s Owlerton season-opener.

As the Tru Plant Tigers’ supporters celebrated the return of racing to South Yorkshire after the Covid shutdown, their team gave them the best possible present of a first win of the campaign.

Australian star Jack Holder was immense once again with a four-ride paid maximum, and there was also a terrific home debut for fellow countryman Troy Batchelor who found his form with four wins out of five.

And with Adam Ellis chipping in with three race victories of his own, Tigers generally had an advantage to control – even though Wolves, who went into the meeting with two rampant victories behind them, always remained in touch.

Sheffield got off to a flyer with a 5-1 in Heat 1 from Batchelor and Justin Sedgmen, and James Wright was another rider to mark his first home appearance with a race win.

American youngster Luke Becker was key to the visitors’ resistance and was involved in 5-1s in Heats 5 and 8 – but fortunately Tigers had collected their own 4-2s in the intervening races.

The second of those created a talking point when Wolves’ Ryan Douglas was disqualified after tangling with Holder and then causing the Sheffield man to fall.

And after a further trading of 5-1s across Heats 9 and 10, followed by an emphatic Holder pass on Sam Masters in Heat 11, there was drama in the next when Wolves looked set for match-levelling 5-1 only for Sheffield reserve Josh Bates to come down.

Ellis took advantage of his second chance to win the re-run, but Tigers will now be sweating on the fitness of Bates, who required medical attention, ahead of Monday’s return fixture at Monmore Green.

The Batchelor/Holder combination showed its strength with a 5-1 in Heat 13 to put the match virtually beyond Wolves, and skipper Kyle Howarth collected a 3-3 with Wright, behind Douglas in the next to secure victory.

The visitors could still have salvaged a league point with an advantage in the last race but Batchelor was in no mood to allow that as he raced clear from the gate, even though the impressive Becker passed Ellis for third place.

Sheffield boss Simon Stead said: “It’s the perfect way to start at home, against really good opposition, because we’ve seen what Wolves have done to a couple of teams already this year.

“Credit to our lads, they put in a really good performance, and I’m pleased. It’s a good start.

“I’m particularly happy for Batch, who’s not started the season how he would have wanted. But I knew he was only one start and a first corner and a race win away from a performance and a score like that one, so that was proof of what he’s really capable of.

“I loved having the fans back. It was great to see familiar faces and new faces, and what I really enjoyed was the third and fourth corner being full of supporters. You really felt that atmosphere and felt the crowd behind you in the pits.

“To see a good crowd in, a good race meeting, and to see us come out on top, it couldn’t have been any better.”

SHEFFIELD 49: Troy Batchelor 12, Jack Holder 11+1, Adam Ellis 9, Kyle Howarth 6+1, James Wright 5+1, Justin Sedgmen 4+1, Josh Bates 2
WOLVERHAMPTON 41: Nick Morris 10+1, Luke Becker 8+2, Sam Masters 6+1, Broc Nicol 6+1, Ryan Douglas 5+1, Rory Schlein 5, Tom Bacon 1+1
Premiership points: Sheffield 3 Wolverhampton 0

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