BELLE VUE 64 PANTHERS 26

Monday May 02, 2022
PETERBOROUGH suffered the worst-possible start to their Premiership defence with a 64-26 thumping at Belle Vue on Monday.

Everything that could go wrong for the Crendon Panthers did so, but in addition to their problems it was clear that they were outpaced by an impressive Aces side.

The Manchester club’s prospects have been transformed by the recent signing of Matej Zagar, but it wasn’t just the Slovenian who did the damage as the home side ran riot.

Brady Kurtz completed a 15-point maximum with a stunning ride in Heat 15, and his fellow Aussie Max Fricke was unbeaten until that race, with Zagar also winning three races on his first appearance of the season.

Panthers were put out of contention by an astonishing opening blast from the home side, who reeled off four successive 5-1s in the first four races.

Jye Etheridge powered around Scott Nicholls and Michael Palm Toft in Heat 1 with MPT subsequently stopping, whilst a close finish for second place in Heat 3 was somewhat surprisingly given in favour of Charles Wright over Panthers man Ulrich Ostergaard.

Chris Harris suffered mechanical trouble off the start-line in Heat 4, and although Palm Toft did register a second spot in the next, Scott Nicholls was next to hit trouble as he slowed when in third place, the skipper suffering an expensive day as he blew two engines.

The Aces added further 5-1s in Heats 6 and 8, both involving Etheridge, before Harris finally got Panthers on the board with a race win in Heat 9.

Ostergaard then showed plenty of determination to make it round Etheridge to split the Aces in Heat 10, but by this stage it was little more than damage limitation, with Kurtz negating a tactical substitute ride for Harris in a shared Heat 11.

Zagar surged through from the back in trademark style despite the efforts of Ostergaard in Heat 12, before the gremlins struck Harris again prior to Heat 13 and Kurtz and Fricke roared to another 5-1 over Palm Toft.

Just when it looked as if Palm Toft would take some mild consolation and spoil the maximums of Kurtz and Fricke in Heat 15, Kurtz summoned up speed on the outside and made it past heading into the last lap with the riders making contact but thankfully staying aboard their machines.

Peterborough manager Rob Lyon said: “It was the worst nightmare in some ways. Everything went wrong today, we were out-ridden, out-gated, and we weren’t quick enough.

“I think sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say we were beaten by a better side, and that was clearly the case today.

“We had a combination of things go wrong, a bit of bad luck as well, and it started from Heat 1 and continued all the way through.

“It was a tough day at the office as they say, but we’ve got to move on and hopefully that’s the bad luck out of the way.”

Panthers have little time to lick their wounds as they are back in action on Thursday, with a tough-looking trip to title favourites Sheffield, with the return against the Aces at home next Monday.

BELLE VUE 64: Brady Kurtz 15, Max Fricke 12+1, Matej Zagar 10+1, Tom Brennan 9+1, Charles Wright 8+1, Jye Etheridge 7+3, Norick Blodorn 3+1.

PETERBOROUGH 26: Michael Palm Toft 7, Ulrich Ostergaard 7, Chris Harris 5+1, Hans Andersen 3+1, Scott Nicholls 2, Benjamin Basso 1, Jordan Palin 1.

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