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Stars suffer knockout blow at Sheffield

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King’s Lynn’s Knockout Cup hopes were ended with a 54-36 semi-final defeat at Sheffield on Thursday.The injury-hit PSH Environmental Stars stayed in the contest at Owlerton until the closing stages as they looked to defend a ten-point first leg lead, and they were helped by an outstanding performance from Rising Star Anders Rowe.But as those final races approached, it always looked a tough ask against a Tigers team with their heat-leaders all firing strongly, and the hosts confirmed their aggregate win in the penultimate heat of the night.Stars manager Rob Lyon said: “I’d like to think things would have been different with our full one-to-seven, and it would be nice to compete on a level playing field if I’m honest.“But guests sometimes work for you, sometimes they don’t, they worked for us on Monday (at Birmingham) and they haven’t tonight, and that’s just the way it goes.“Fair play to the Sheffield boys, they got dialled in from mid-meeting really and pulled away from us, so it’ s a little frustrating but that’s the way it goes.“Anders was superb, he rode really well all night and I can’t fault him at all. He’s had probably his best meeting all season, and we were good in spells, but overall not quite enough.” The main damage was done by the home combination of Jack Holder and Kyle Howarth, who raced to 5-1s in each of their races together, starting in Heat 1 when Holder blasted to the front on the back straight and Howarth followed him past Stars guest Zach Cook on turn four. Rowe chased Jason Edwards hard in a shared Heat 2 whilst the Tigers picked up a 4-2 from Heat 3 with Niels-Kristian Iversen holding off Josh Pickering for second place.There was then a sensation in Heat 4 when Rowe pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career, gating sharply and then riding a perfect race to keep triple World Champion Tai Woffinden at bay, whilst Jan Kvech retrieved third place from Edwards.But the Tigers moved ten points ahead on the night with advantages in the next two races, as Pickering was judged to have snatched third place on the line from Richard Lawson in a blanket finish to Heat 5. With Holder and Howarth taking their second 5-1 in Heat 6 to make it 23-13, the Stars needed to dig in, and they did just that with each of the next three races shared.Benjamin Basso re-passed Dan Gilkes for third place in Heat 7 before Rowe raced clear in the next, although Cook was unlucky as he was squeezed out by Howarth on the back straight and lost all momentum. Kvech was an impressive winner of Heat 9 ahead of Pickering and Chris Holder, keeping the aggregate scores level, but Jack Holder and Howarth put Sheffield into the overall lead for the first time with maximum points over Iversen and Basso in Heat 10.Lawson and Rowe packed in behind Woffinden in Heat 11 and the next was also shared thanks to Rowe and Iversen in second and third places. But Heat 13 always looked strong for Sheffield and so it proved with Jack Holder and Woffinden making the start for a 5-1, although Kvech deserved credit for chasing them all the way and gaining ground over the last two laps.That left the Stars needing two 5-1s in the last two races to level things on aggregate, but whilst Basso got some reward from a tough night with a win over Pickering in Heat 14, Rowe was forced out on lap one and his super meeting ended with a last place.Chris Holder collected his fourth win of the night in a shared Heat 15 but there was another strong ride by Kvech to reel him in and challenge on lap four, with Iversen third ahead of Pickering.Stars now go into a run of home matches in the Rowe Motor Oil Premiership, with Leicester visiting the Adrian Flux Arena on Monday (July 1). Sheffield 54: Chris Holder 13+1, Jack Holder 11+1, Tai Woffinden 11, Kyle Howarth 7+4, Josh Pickering 6, Dan Gilkes 3+1, Jason Edwards 3.King’s Lynn 36: Anders Rowe 11+1, Jan Kvech 8, Niels-Kristian Iversen 7+2, Benjamin Basso 4+1, Zach Cook 3, Richard Lawson 2, Paco Castagna 1+1.Sheffield win 94-86 on aggregate



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