Sunday September 09, 2018
PETERBORUGH saw off some stubborn Berwick resistance to wrap up their home Championship programme with a 47-43 win at the East of England Arena.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers were never fully allowed to relax by the Bandits, but the home side led from Heat 3 onwards and wrapped up victory when skipper Simon Lambert took the flag in Heat 14.

The result puts Panthers five points clear at the top of the table with a hectic week ahead for several of their rivals before the four play-off qualifiers are determined – but it would take an incredible series of results for them to miss out completely.

Two shared heats opened proceedings on Sunday, visiting skipper Kevin Doolan moving to the front of the first race after a fast start from Emil Grondal, and Lambert took charge of Heat 2 although guest Jordan Stewart – in for back injury victim Tom Bacon – was kept at the back.

Panthers took the lead with a 5-1 in Heat 3 from the prolific Bradley Wilson-Dean/Michael Palm Toft combination, and Stewart then hit back with an excellent effort to hold back former Panthers man Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen in the next with Ulrich Ostergaard’s comeback ride seeing him run a last.

Although the Bandits levelled in Heat 5 as Doolan and Aaron Summers got the better of BWD and MPT, who retired, Panthers quickly responded with maximum points in Heat 6 from Grondal and guest Thomas Jorgensen, much to the frustration of Jakobsen.

But the visitors kept in the match with successive 4-2s, Ostergaard splitting Jye Etheridge and David Howe in Heat 7, and it was level at 24-24 after eight with Stewart ending Doolan’s unbeaten run but Theo Pijper taking the win.

However, normal service was resumed by Wilson-Dean and Palm Toft as they team-rode Jakobsen out of contention in Heat 9, and Panthers had breathing space after the next with Jorgensen and Grondal taking a 4-2.

Ostergaard looked set to win Heat 11 only to lift on lap three to allow Summers through, but Berwick were able to make no more progress than that 4-2 to cut the gap to four.

The next two races were both shared as Wilson-Dean and Lambert got the better of Pijper behind Etheridge in Heat 12, and Jorgensen and Ostergaard then packed the places behind Summers.

Lambert then took the honours in a competitive Heat 14 which featured a fine battle between Pijper and Palm Toft, resolved in favour of the Dutchman but not being enough to spoil Panthers’ victory as they moved six points up with one race to go.

The Bandits weren’t to be denied a league point, though, with Summers completing a highly impressive display by winning Heat 15, whilst Etheridge won the scrap for third place by getting the better of Wilson-Dean – but the far bigger picture for Panthers was the home win, their eighth out of ten in the league this season.

Team boss Carl Johnson said: “It was a tough meeting, as we expected it to be. They were chasing the play-offs and obviously we wanted to keep ourselves at the top, so we wanted the three points.

“I don’t mind them taking a point because they’re not really going to affect us, but it was good to win to keep us top of the table.

“We were solid as a team, and that’s good. Ulrich was a little rusty tonight having not raced for such a long time, but that’s to be expected, and we had no worries about bringing Jordan in at reserve as we’d looked at what he did here last time.

“The track was gripper than expected on the inside, but that was the first time it’s been ridden on since we put new material on this week. I’m sure once it’s bedded in, we’ll see it get better as time goes on.

“I know we’re not 100 per cent sure of the play-offs yet but there are so many matches this week and many of the clubs are racing against each other, so we’re nearly there.”

Panthers are next in action at Birmingham on Wednesday in an Inter-League Challenge, and their next Championship fixture is at second-placed Workington on Friday.

PETERBOROUGH 47: Thomas Jorgensen 11+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 9, Simon Lambert 7+1, Michael Palm Toft 5+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 5+1, Emil Grondal 5+1, Jordan Stewart 5.
BERWICK 43: Aaron Summers 11+1, Jye Etheridge 9, Kevin Doolan 8, Theo Pijper 7+2, Nikolaj B Jakobsen 4, David Howe 2, Dany Gappmaier 2.

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