SHEFFIELD v PANTHERS, PREVIEW

Wednesday April 11, 2018
PETERBOROUGH promoter Ged Rathbone is predicting “a cracker” as his side launch their league programme at Sheffield on Thursday.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers head to South Yorkshire in good spirits after their encouraging Championship Shield performances so far, and clashes between the sides at Owlerton are often eventful.

The two clubs have developed a keen rivalry ever since Panthers dumped the Tigers out of the then Premier League play-offs with home and away wins at the quarter-final stage back in 2015.

Peterborough have enjoyed other good results at Sheffield since then, but the Tigers were undoubtedly the class of the division last year as they swept to the title with play-off wins over Glasgow and Ipswich – and they won all four meetings with Panthers along the way.

The reigning champions retained four members of that line-up over the winter, although Josh Bates is currently out with a back injury, and they also signed James Shanes at reserve – a rider who did plenty of damage to the Panthers in guest appearances during 2017.

The rider-replacement facility is in operation for Bates, whilst former Peterborough rider Lasse Bjerre is now in his second season with the club.

For Panthers, No.1 Scott Nicholls himself guested for Sheffield in the closing stages of last season, and Ulrich Ostergaard won the Premier League Riders’ Championship at Owlerton in 2015.

Rathbone said: “Sheffield are entitled to be amongst the favourites for the league, and they obviously want to repeat their feat of last year.

“They will certainly give us a good idea of where we are within the league, and I think it should be an absolute cracker of a meeting.

“We will go there looking to give them a really good test, and looking for a win, as we do in every meeting we race in. We will be there to complete, and to make sure Sheffield are aware they will have to earn anything they get.

“When you’re racing against riders like (Kyle) Howarth and Bjerre you know you’re going to have to be at the top of your game to get anything, but we’re looking forward to it and a few of our riders do enjoy Sheffield.

“It’s a league meeting so we want to get something out of it. It’s been a fault of ours in the past that we’ve had really slow starts to league campaigns, and this time we want to hit the ground running and get some points on the board early.”

Panthers are back in action at the East of England Arena on Sunday when they host Redcar in another Championship fixture (5pm).

Teams from:
SHEFFIELD: Josh Bates R/R, Lasse Bjerre, Kyle Howarth, Todd Kurtz, James Shanes, Jack Smith, Charles Wright.
PETERBOROUGH: Tom Bacon, Emil Grondal, Simon Lambert, Nike Lunna, Scott Nicholls, Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft.


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