Sheffield 43 Leicester 47
Sheffield gave Elite League opponents Leicester a major scare as they put in a hugely encouraging display in their first Owlerton appearance of the season, writes Nigel Pearson.
The Tigers battled hard throughout and came within a whisker of pulling off a confidence-boosting victory before eventually slipping to a narrow 47-43 defeat.
It was, however, a much-improved display from the Premier League side in the second leg of their inter-league challenge after their 59-34 first leg defeat last Saturday.
There was little to separate the sides throughout, with 5-1s from Lions middle order duo Grzegorz Walasek and Josh Auty in heats three and seven eventually making the difference in a fiercely-contested pre-season encounter.
Dimitri Berge and Kyle Howarth earned their first race wins in Tigers’ colours with classy victories in heats eight and nine respectively as the hosts looked to quickly hit back after going behind.
However, former Owlerton favourite Auty brilliantly battled his way to the front in heat 10 before Patrick Hougaard forcefully picked off Jason Garrity to keep his side ahead with a move which clearly left the all-action Brit feeling aggrieved.
The Lions eventually held on in the closing stages with Hougaard brilliantly rounding Howarth in a tense heat 15 decider to seal victory.
However, it was nonetheless a positive night for the Tigers as they prepare to get their League Cup campaign underway at Scunthorpe on Sunday (3pm).
Flying Frenchman Berge improved as the evening went on to score a hard-fought six points.
And fellow home debutant Howarth was similarly encouraging in the middle order as he bagged double figures.
Yet perhaps the ride of the night came from local youngster Nathan Greaves as he held off former Grand Prix star Sebastian Ulamek in heat four, putting barely a wheel wrong to partner Garrity for the Tigers’ only 5-1 of the night.
Australian star Doyle stepped in with a classy performance in place of injured skipper Simon Stead, plus Richard Hall enjoyed a solid Owlerton return at reserve on a night filled with promising signs.