High drama as Peterborough Panthers beat title favourites after a 'super heat' decider to claim first Premiership win

Peterborough Panthers snatched victory over Sheffield in a dramatic finish at the East of England Arena – winning the Premiership meeting in the first-ever ‘Super Heat’.

By Alan Swann
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 6:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 6:50 am
Ulrich Ostergaard leads the way for Panthers agaonst Sheffield Tigers. Photo: David Lowndes.
Ulrich Ostergaard leads the way for Panthers agaonst Sheffield Tigers. Photo: David Lowndes.

Panthers fought back from eight points down to draw 45-45 in a thriller of a contest with the Tigers after 15 races, which under the old system would have gained Peterborough one league point and Sheffield two.But the 2022 rules call for an extra race to sort out a tie – the equivalent of a penalty shootout in football – and in a tense encounter, Michael Palm Toft won from the gate whilst Chris Harris crucially overtook Tobiasz Musielak for the all-important third place.And that gave Peterborough three league points for winning the meeting, whilst Sheffield had to be content with one.It was a night of relief for Panthers who displayed massive fighting spirit to overturn their mid-meeting deficit to the title favourites, and there were also several improved displays in their side.Ulrich Ostergaard gated to a race win over Craig Cook and Jack Holder in Heat 1, added another victory in Heat 8, and then combined with Palm Toft for a 5-1 over Musielak and Kyle Howarth in Heat 10.That result cut the gap to two points after Sheffield had apparently taken control with 5-1s in Heats 5 and 7, whilst Panthers’ hopes of taking points back in Heat 9 were thwarted by a brilliant ride by Adam Ellis to pass Scott Nicholls off the final bend.And just as Panthers looked to be right back in the contest, the Tigers took another 5-1 in Heat 11 with Cook controlling the race and Holder getting the better of Harris in the first of a string of spectacular battles between the two riders.Panthers used their tactical substitute with Palm Toft in Heat 12 and it could have gone badly wrong as Sheffield gated on a 5-1, with Palm Toft and Benjamin Basso at least passing Jake Allen to salvage a 3-3 behind Musielak.But Panthers still needed something big as they trailed 33-39, and they got it in Heat 13 with Palm Toft and Harris both engineering a way past Holder for a 5-1 – which was then backed up by another maximum in the next as Nicholls and Basso swept round Allen off the fourth bend.It put Panthers unexpectedly into a last-heat decider 43-41 ahead, and in a blockbuster of a race the Tigers gated on a 5-1 only to be split by Harris, who then had a stunning battle with Holder which the Sheffield man narrowly edged – whilst Palm Toft was just unable to get the better of Musielak for third place.So at 45-45 it went to the Super Heat, where 4-3-2-0 pairs scoring came into play, meaning second and third places would be enough for overall match victory.With the same four riders selected as in Heat 15, it again looked good for the Tigers early on, despite Palm Toft launching off gate two to take the lead.But Harris wasn’t to be denied, and after Musielak got out of shape off bend four at the end of lap two, the Panthers man had the run on the outside, and duly completed the pass to send the home crowd into raptures.Panthers team Rob Lyon said: “I have to be honest and say when we were eight points down and just clinging to their shirt tails, I couldn’t see where a win was coming from.“But the way the boys responded in the second half of the meeting was pretty much what we saw last year many, many times.“It was a fantastic last heat, the ‘Super Heat’ with Tofty making a superb start, and Bomber did what Bomber does.“We needed that result. I’m really happy with the boys, and it’s a big relief to get some points on the board, because it becomes a psychological issue after a period of time when you can’t get off the mark.“We’ve now got a bit of belief, a bit of confidence, and we need to go on a run now and climb that table.”Panthers are back in action at home to Ipswich next Monday (June 20), but before that they will be represented by Harris and Hans Andersen in the second round of the Premiership Pairs at Ipswich on Thursday.

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PETERBOROUGH 45: Michael Palm Toft 10+1, Chris Harris 10, Ulrich Ostergaard 9+1, Scott Nicholls 6+1, Benjamin Basso 6+1, Hans Andersen 2+1, Jordan Jenkins 2+1.SHEFFIELD 45: Tobiasz Musielak 11, Jack Holder 10+2, Craig Cook 9+1, Adam Ellis 7, Kyle Howarth 4+1, Jake Allen 3, Dan Thompson 1+1.Peterborough beat Sheffield 6-3 in Super Heat