ADVANTAGE PANTHERS!

Sunday October 04, 2015
PETERBOROUGH produced a rousing performance to claim a 46-44 victory in a Premier League play-offs semi-final thriller against reigning champions Edinburgh.

Double-figures displays from Danish stars Anders Thomsen and Emil Grondal helped the Readypower Panthers to a narrow advantage in a thrilling first leg at a packed East of England Showground this evening.

The lead changed hands on numerous occasions during a titanic clash against a table-topping Monarchs side who were impressively spearheaded by the high-scoring combination of Justin Sedgmen and Craig Cook.

A fabulous 5-1 from Grondal and stand-in skipper Simon Lambert in heat 14 ultimately proved decisive although a cruel mechanical failure for Ben Barker robbed Peterborough of the possibility of another in the finale.

Promoter Ged Rathbone said: “It was a fantastic meeting for the supporters and the turnout was absolutely brilliant again.

“The backing, both in terms of both numbers and noise, was unbelievable. We showed our appreciation at the end of the meeting and the ovation the fans gave the riders was terrific.

“We wanted a lead to take into the second leg and we’ve got a small one. We were very unlucky with Ben’s retirement in the final race as I felt sure he and Anders would have brought home a 5-1 and put us six points up on aggregate.

“But we are still alive and kicking, and we will continue to fight on just as we have done throughout the season. We all believe we can go up to Edinburgh and defend our lead.

“They will have our victory up there earlier in the season in the back of their minds and we need to make sure they know they are in a meeting again.

“We could certainly do with a lesson or two in gating from them though. We have some good trappers in our team, but their boys were phenomenal from the tapes in almost every race.

“I don’t know what the Monarchs do, or what they use, but it certainly works for them.”

Rathbone admitted Panthers were caught out by some slicker-than-anticipated track conditions – blamed on the unusually warm autumnal weather – in the early stages.

They made the worst possible start as the Monarchs duo of Sedgmen and Cook powered to the first of their three 5-1 returns in the opener.

The hosts returned the compliment when Grondal and Barker combined to great effect in heat four although they were quickly behind again due to an immediate response from the visitors’ top pairing.

Guest number one Rohan Tungate blasted past fellow Australian ace Sam Masters to inspire a 4-2 that halved Panthers’ arrears in heat six and they were level again when Palm Toft ended Sedgmen’s unbeaten streak to spearhead another 4-2 in the eighth contest.

And they quickly hit the front for the first time as a Thomsen triumph over Masters and a hard-fought third place for Lambert secured another 4-2 in heat nine.

Panthers were back in arrears again when Sedgmen and Cook left Barker trailing at the tapes to complete their hat-trick of 5-1s in heat 11, but they turned a two-point deficit into a two-point advantage as Grondal and Lambert roared to a maximum return in the penultimate race.

They looked set to finish with a bang courtesy of another 5-1 until disaster struck for the fast-starting Barker in the finale, but Thomsen produced a terrific solo mission to keep Cook and Sedgmen at bay and ensure Panthers travel to Scotland on Friday (October 9) for the second leg in possession of a lead.

SCORES

READYPOWER PANTHERS: Emil Grondal 10+1, Anders Thomsen 10, Ben Barker 7+2, Michael Palm Toft 7, Rohan Tungate (guest) 6+1, Simon Lambert 5+2, Rafal Konopka 1+1.

EDINBUGH: Justin Sedgmen 14+2, Craig Cook 12+2, Erik Riss 9, Sam Masters 5, Robert Branford 4+1, Max Clegg 0, Rider replacement for Kevin Wolbert.

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