Stars are too strong for rivals in opener
Paddy DavittKing's Lynn 58, Sheffield 34: Injury-hit Lynn overpowered Sheffield in last night's opening Premier League skirmish at the Norfolk Arena. The depleted hosts wore down the Tigers despite the recent double blow of losing both Tomas Topinka (broken leg) and Joe Haines (broken collarbone).Paddy Davitt
King's Lynn 58, Sheffield 34
Injury-hit Lynn overpowered Sheffield in last night's opening Premier League skirmish at the Norfolk Arena.
The depleted hosts wore down the Tigers despite the recent double blow of losing both Tomas Topinka (broken leg) and Joe Haines (broken collarbone).
Stand-in captain Kevin Doolan led from the front with Linus Eklof and Kozza Smith offering solid second string support. Doolan had a six ride maximum in his sights until Josef Franc trapped in the finale to land only the visitors' second flag of the night. Home supporters were also boosted by an upbeat injury bulletin hinting both Topinka and Lynn's newly-crowned British Under-21 champion Haines will target a comeback within six weeks.
Topinka broke his right fibula in a horror shunt at Rye House on Saturday but the Czech has vowed to return swiftly to spearhead Lynn's trophy charge.
'I'm not too bad at the moment,' he said. 'They initially said it would be six to eight weeks before I could ride again, and now it has dropped to four to six weeks. Ideally I'm aiming to get back before that but obviously I don't want to come back too early, I will be back as soon as I feel ready.
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'It's never easy at the start of the season and it's such a shame that Joe has also suffered an injury - especially as he was in such good form. It is going to be difficult to replace him and myself. Luckily, though, I feel we have a good team this year. We are all friends and we all get along so well and that helps.'
Stars' treble winner Chris Schramm guested for Topinka while Haines' absence was covered by the rider replacement facility. Club chief Buster Chapman sees no reason to abandon that formula in the short term.
'They say it never rains but it pours and there could never be a truer saying at this moment in time,' he said. 'Both riders are hoping to be back within a month so for the time being we will be sticking with guests and utilising rider replacement. If things change then we will re-evaluate the situation.'
Schramm looked like he had never been away - diving into Eklof's slipstream in a dominant opener.
Casper Wortmann claimed the reserves but Darren Mallett was clearly struggling for power on his spare machine after the 23-year-old blew his best engine at Rye House.
Lynn's maximum onslaught continued when Smith trapped before Richard Hall and Hugh Skidmore tumbled in the rear. Sheffield skipper Paul Cooper broke the spell in the next but Doolan had too much class at the head of affairs.
Mallett took emergency action to avoid the stricken Hall but both managed to return home in one piece.
Cooper's tactical foray in the next earned Sheffield a pyrrhic heat advantage as Eklof maintained his throttle-perfect start. Mallett was the central character in the duel of the meeting, while Schramm's heat 13 collision with the top boards threw a dust cloud into the night sky before Lynn's reliable guest re-mounted to huge cheers. Smith completed his best return of the season in the penultimate tour but Doolan and Eklof deferred to Franc in the finale.
Stars: Schramm 7, Eklof 12+3, Smith 11, Haines r/r, Doolan 17, Mallett 6+2, Wortmann 5.
Tigers: Ashworth 5, Auty 4+2, Hall 5, Skidmore 1, Franc 9+1, Bugeja 1, Cooper 9.