MEETING REPORT: Panthers win the battle of big cats

Paul Starke (red helmet) in action in heat five of Panthers' meeting with Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.
Paul Starke (red helmet) in action in heat five of Panthers' meeting with Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.
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They say actions speak louder than words – and Peterborough Panthers provided a performance that screamed from the rooftops yesterday (June 25).

The city team claimed their biggest - and undoubtedly their best – league victory of a difficult season when thumping title-chasers Glasgow 55-37.

In-form Panthers star Jack Holder (red helmet) during heat four of the meeting against Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.

In-form Panthers star Jack Holder (red helmet) during heat four of the meeting against Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.

The Tigers rolled into the East of England Arena having collected at least a point in all 14 of their previous SGB Championship outings this season.

But they left with their tails well and truly between their legs after being second-best throughout a battle of the big cats which was book-ended by 5-1s featuring Panthers number one Chris Harris.

The three-time British champion went from last to first in the opener to lead home a back-on-song Bradley Wilson-Dean, and then had skipper Ulrich Ostergaard in his slipstream in the finale.

Harris also starred in another full house when Jack Holder pulled off a back-to-front surge of his own in heat 13 as success was sealed with two races to spare and accompanied by a standing ovation.

Chris Harris (red helmet) and Bradley Wilson-Dean (blue) on their way to a 5-1 for Panthers in heat one of the meeting with Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.

Chris Harris (red helmet) and Bradley Wilson-Dean (blue) on their way to a 5-1 for Panthers in heat one of the meeting with Glasgow. Photo: David Lowndes.

All three of those men – Harris, Ostergaard and Holder – made double-figures contributions to a dominant display. There was also a second 5-1 featuring Ostergaard as he led in Paul Starke in heat three, while a further three 4-2s helped to build a winning margin which would have been beyond the expectations of even the most upbeat Panthers supporters when the tapes went up.

“It was an absolutely fantastic performance in front of a magnificent crowd,” said Johnson. “We knew the importance of this meeting and we dominated a top team from start to finish.

“This result will show everyone else in the league that we mean business. It also proves we’re a formidable side when we have almost everyone flying and we could even have won by more as we dropped a few points along the way.”

Panthers restricted their high-flying visitors to just four race wins and two heat advantages, and also made sure their tactical ride was wasted.

Visiting captain Aaron Summers could only manage second spot in heat 9 after Ostergaard swept round his outside. The 4-4 outcome only served to strengthen Panthers’ grip on proceedings rather than launch a Glasgow fightback.

Summers forms part of a formidable heat-leader trio for the Tigers along with Richard Lawson and Richie Worrall, but they could muster only one win between them yesterday. That came from Worrall as he blasted past Starke in heat 12.

Lawson, a former Panthers rider whose omission from the provisional 10-man Great Britain squad ahead of the World Cup has caused quite a furore in the sport, only managed one points-scoring ride from four outings.

“A lot is made of the strength of Glasgow’s top riders,” added Johnson. “But we’re more than a match for anyone.

“I don’t think there is a better top five in the league than ours and they showed that by bossing it against quality opposition.

“The five guys in our main body scored more than 50 points between them and that takes some doing.”

Teenage second-string Dan Bewley and young reserve Jack Smith were the pick of the visiting performers. Smith claimed the mighty scalp of Holder in heat four, when the Panthers man found himself stuck at the back before recovering to take second.

That was just a third point dropped by Holder in Panthers’ last five home meetings. He’s also racked up a staggering 78+1 points in six June appearances for the club.

Panthers’ own reserve Tom Bacon continued his improved form with 4+1 – a tally that probably deserved to be at least a couple of points higher.

But there was disappointment for short-term signing Richard Hall, who failed to score in his three rides while looking short of speed.

The considerable gap between Panthers and the SGB Championship play-off places has been cut to 10 points thanks to two home wins in the space of three days.

They can make further inroads when entertaining Ipswich in a mouth-watering East Anglian derby on Sunday (July 2, 5pm).

SCORES

PETERBOROUGH: Chris Harris 13+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 12+1, Jack Holder 11, Paul Starke 8+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 7+2, Tom Bacon 4+1, Richard Hall 0.

GLASGOW: Aaron Summers 8, Dan Bewley 7+1, Nike Lunna 6+1, Richie Worrall 6, Jack Smith 5+1, Tom Perry 3, Richard Lawson 2.

HEATS

1 - Harris (61.1), Wilson-Dean, Lunna, Lawson. 5-1, 5-1.

2 - Perry (61.5), Bacon, Smith, Hall. 2-4, 7-5.

3 - Ostergaard (60.8), Starke, Worrall, Bewley (ret). 5-1, 12-6.

4 - Smith (61.1), Holder, Summers, Bacon. 2-4, 14-10.

5 - re-run Starke (61.4), Lunna, Ostergaard, Lawson. 4-2, 18-12.

6 - re-run Harris (61.0), Summers, Wilson-Dean, Perry. 4-2, 22-14.

7 - Holder (61.2), Worrall, Bewley, Hall. 3-3, 25-17.

8 - re-run Wilson-Dean (61.9), Lunna, Bacon, Smith (fell). 4-2, 29-19.

9 - Ostergaard (62.1), Summers (t/r), Starke, Perry. 4-4, 33-23.

10 - Bewley (62.1), Harris, Wilson-Dean, Worrall. 3-3, 36-26.

11 - Holder (62.5), Lawson, Lunna, Hall. 3-3, 39-29.

12 - Worrall (62.6), Starke, Bacon, Perry. 3-3, 42-32.

13 - Holder (62.8), Harris, Summers, Lawson (ret). 5-1, 47-33.

14 – Ostergaard (62.9), Bewley, Smith, Bacon. 3-3, 50-36.

15 - Harris (63.0), Ostergaard, Bewley, Worrall. 5-1, 55-37