Monday July 01, 2024
INJURY-HIT Sheffield were beaten in a last heat decider at Oxford as they went down by six points in front of the TV cameras.

The Tru7 Group Tigers were temporarily placed to snatch victory at the death before the hosts turned things around to win 48-42.

It was a hugely spirited display from the reigning champions who took it down to the wire despite being without their top two riders in Jack Holder and Tai Woffinden who both crashed out of the Grand Prix in Poland at the weekend.

An impressive start saw Sheffield lead by six points themselves with three races gone. The opener saw Chris Holder take the flag for the Tigers whilst guest Lewis Kerr passed Drew Kemp on the final bends - the man Oxford replaced him with last week.

Jason Edwards and Dan Gilkes scored points in a shared Heat Two before determined rides from Kyle Howarth and Josh Pickering saw them land the first 5-1 of the contest.

The hosts were back level after Heat Five though before five shared races followed to keep things tight between the two teams.

In that run, Howarth rounded Erik Riss on the final lap of Heat Seven whilst a terrific ride from Kerr saw him go from third to first, again passing home debutant Kemp.

Holder gated his way to victory in the ninth before both Pickering and Howarth rounded Oxford’s Rising Star Ashton Boughen on the opening lap of Heat 10.

Howarth himself was passed on the run to the line in Heat 11 as Oxford moved ahead for the first time before an entertaining Heat 12.

The Tigers gated on a maximum and whilst Edwards was eventually passed by Polish World Cup winner Maciej Janowski, he did enough to hold him up in the early stages and create some breathing space for Pickering out front.

Kerr and Holder conceded a 5-1 in Heat 13 - but with that opening up Oxford’s lead to six, it allowed team boss Simon Stead to nominate the latter as a tactical substitute in Heat 14.

Holder delivered the goods as he again gated his way to victory whilst Howarth closed the door on Charles Wright for a maximum of their own to bring the gap back down to two.

In the last heat decider, Tigers’ duo Holder and Pickering got to bend one in the 5-1 position they needed to snatch the win.

But a fantastic heat of speedway saw the home pairing of Rohan Tungate and Chris Harris turn the race on its head to seal a six point victory for the Spires who currently occupy the fourth and final play-off place.

Sheffield have one more fixture before the break for the Speedway of Nations - it takes place at Leicester this coming Thursday (July 4, 7.30pm).

OXFORD 48: Rohan Tungate 14, Chris Harris 11+2, Maciej Janowski 8, Erik Riss 5+1, Charles Wright 4+2, Ashton Boughen 4+1, Drew Kemp 2.
SHEFFIELD 42: Chris Holder 14, Josh Pickering 10+1, Kyle Howarth 8+3, Lewis Kerr 5, Jason Edwards 4+1, Dan Gilkes 1+1, Jack Holder R/R.

Photo credit: STEVE EDMUNDS

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