Play-off time as Panthers head to Wolverhampton
Peterborough Panthers launch their Premiership play-off campaign with a trip to Wolverhampton in the first leg of the semi-final on Monday (7.30pm).
The Crendon Panthers will be looking for another strong display at Monmore to set things up for a blockbuster return at the East of England Arena on October 4.
It’s an unusual situation – although not unheard of – for the top two in the final league table to meet at this stage, with Panthers finishing a single point clear of Wolves and a massive 16 ahead of third-placed Belle Vue.
But Rob Lyon’s side had much to consider before making their selection, including the fact that both the Aces and Sheffield have won at Alwalton this season, the Tigers as recently as last week.
And they head to the West Midlands just a fortnight after a stunning 48-42 away victory against the same opposition, which opened up the chance to top the league table.
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Hans Andersen has racked up scores of 15 and 12+2 on his two previous visits to Monmore this season, both at reserve, and the Dane will be a key figure in that position again for the final time before the averages change for October.
In-form Chris Harris notched 15 in the Black Country earlier this month, and Lyon will again deploy the former British Champion in the No.2 position with Bjarne Pedersen reverting to No.5 as Panthers look to make the best of their resources whilst operating rider-replacement for long-term injury victim Ulrich Ostergaard.
Their other reserve Jordan Palin was missing last time at Wolves but made a solid return from his collarbone injury in last week’s home matches.
The hosts are at full-strength having been without captain Rory Schlein a fortnight ago, with the former Peterborough rider now back from a bout of Covid.
Panthers have lost just one away match out of ten this season, which was their first visit to Wolves in early August – but even that was only by a four-point margin, with several of their riders having a proven record of success there over the years.
Skipper Scott Nicholls said: “You always take those positives into a meeting when you’ve had a good result there before, but we know they’re going to be up for it, and so will we!
“Wherever you go it’s going to be tough, which is why making the choice was so difficult.
“We’ve got Wolves, we’ll go there in determined mood, and if we can start with an away win then obviously that would be nice going into the home leg.”
WOLVERHAMPTON: Sam Masters, Luke Becker, Nick Morris, Ryan Douglas, Rory Schlein, Broc Nicol, Leon Flint.
PETERBOROUGH: Ulrich Ostergaard r/r, Chris Harris, Michael Palm Toft, Scott Nicholls, Bjarne Pedersen, Hans Andersen, Jordan Palin.