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Wolves defeated as race for play-off place goes on

Wolverhampton will have to wait to officially confirm their Premiership play-off place after a 51-39 defeat at Sheffield last night.

CREDIT: PHIL MCGLYNN
CREDIT: PHIL MCGLYNN

Parrys International Wolves remain one point away from being mathematical certainties for the top four, as a less than convincing win elsewhere for King’s Lynn over injury-hit Peterborough means they could still match Wolves’ 34-point total.

And on that basis, the Monmore men will be hoping the Stars slip up before the two sides meet in Norfolk on September 22 on the final night of the regular campaign.

Wolves had held things close on previous visits to Owlerton this season, winning 46-44 in the League Cup and going down by the same score in in their last league encounter.

But on this occasion they struggled for race wins on the South Yorkshire circuit, ironically after Sam Masters had taken a clear victory in heat one and newly-crowned British under-21 champion Leon Flint followed suit in the reserves’ race.

But Sheffield then began to take a grip on proceedings with a succession of 4-2 advantages, with Luke Becker squeezed out by Kyle Howarth on the last bend of heat three after the Sheffield captain initially chased after Ryan Douglas.

The Australian has been a high scorer at Sheffield in the past but, just back from a shoulder injury, Douglas suffered another first-bend fall and was unable to make his usual impact until a superb heat 14 victory – and his colleagues in the middle-order also ran several last places.

Sheffield led 29-19 after heat eight when Lewis Kerr defeated Nick Morris despite a great effort by the Wolves man, with Peter Adams making his tactical move in the next race by bringing in Masters.

But it didn’t have the desired effect as Kerr and rising star Connor Mountain hit the front for the Tigers, and although Masters moved into second place at the end of the first lap, he couldn’t pass Kerr while Mountain remained third ahead of Morris.

Becker and Douglas both fought their way past Kerr to share heat 10, but yet another Tigers 4-2 followed in the next with Jack Holder passing Masters on the third lap.

Wolves belatedly got a string of race wins on the board from Becker and Masters, the latter in a close-fought heat 13, and then Douglas rode a stormer in heat 14 to cut back inside Howarth on the last lap.

But the visitors didn’t manage a heat advantage until the very last race when they finally secured their own 4-2 from Becker and Douglas, albeit too late to challenge for the one league point they still require.

Sheffield 51: Jack Holder 14, Tobiasz Musielak 13+2, Lewis Kerr 9, Connor Mountain 6+1, Kyle Howarth 6, Justin Sedgmen 3+2, Adam Ellis R/R.

Wolverhampton 39: Sam Masters 12, Luke Becker 10, Ryan Douglas 8+2, Leon Flint 5, Nick Morris 4, Drew Kemp 0, Steve Worrall R/R.

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