Thursday June 03, 2021
WOLVERHAMPTON’S impressive start to the season received its first setback at the hands of Premiership newcomers Sheffield at Owlerton.

Parrys International Wolves were beaten 49-41 in the Tigers’ opening home fixture, on a night where the home side dominated the race victories and also enjoyed two slices of fortune.

The Monmore side found themselves chasing in the early stages, conceding three heat advantages to go 13-5 down after three races.

But American youngster Luke Becker quickly found the Owlerton set-up and partnered Sam Masters – struggling with the after-effects of a Covid jab - to maximum points in Heat 5.

The home side rebuilt their eight-point margin when Ryan Douglas was thrown out of Heat 7 after getting into difficulty when attempting to keep Holder behind him with Wolves on a 5-1 at the time.

Becker combined with fellow countryman Broc Nicol for a maximum in Heat 8 which sparked a trading of advantages, with the gap back at four points when both Douglas and Nick Morris overhauled early leader Justin Sedgmen in Heat 10.

But the events of Heat 12 ultimately proved decisive with Morris and Nicol on for a 5-1 until home reserve Josh Bates crashed out – and in the re-run, Adam Ellis charged clear to salvage a 3-3.

Sheffield made the most of their escape with Troy Batchelor and Jack Holder carding maximum points in Heat 13, and their victory was confirmed in the next race when the home duo packed in for a 3-3 behind Douglas.

The unbeaten Holder surprisingly sat out Heat 15 where a race advantage would have given Wolves a league point, but even though the spectacular Becker passed Ellis for third place, Batchelor had the race under control for the hosts.

Wolves boss Peter Adams said: “I think Sheffield got out of jail. We traded blows with them on a track we haven’t been to for such a long time, and they had two strokes of good fortune which separated us from a point at least, and maybe more.

“I think I made a mistake myself in the re-run of Heat 12. We were on a 5-1 when Josh Bates crashed, and in the re-run I should have swapped Nicol with Tom Bacon to create the possibility of a tactical substitute in Heat 14.

“But we were on a 5-1 when the crash happened, so you think maybe they can do it again, and then Adam Ellis popped out of the start and got the 3-3, and those were the real turning points for sure.

“It’s a very demanding track, and Sam was suffering badly tonight because he had his first Covid injection yesterday, so that was reflected in his score.

“But Luke had one look at the track and was fantastic thereafter, and Nick, Ryan, they all rode their hearts out. They’re very disappointed at not taking a point here, but Monday is another day and we’ll see what the score is then.”

The sides meet again at Monmore on Monday, with Sheffield awaiting news on Bates who appeared to suffer a wrist injury in his crash.

SHEFFIELD 49: Troy Batchelor 12, Jack Holder 11+1, Adam Ellis 9, Kyle Howarth 6+1, James Wright 5+1, Justin Sedgmen 4+1, Josh Bates 2
WOLVERHAMPTON 41: Nick Morris 10+1, Luke Becker 8+2, Sam Masters 6+1, Broc Nicol 6+1, Ryan Douglas 5+1, Rory Schlein 5, Tom Bacon 1+1
Premiership points: Sheffield 3 Wolverhampton 0


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