Wolverhampton and Peterborough meet live on Eurosport 2 on Monday evening (19:30 BST) in a massive meeting which could decide Premiership leadership ahead of the play-offs.
The match takes place at Monmore Green where a home win would ensure top position for Wolves, and with it the right to choose their opponents in the semi-finals.
It’s their last fixture of the regular season, but should the Panthers grab an away win they will have the opportunity to steal top spot themselves as they have three more matches remaining – home and away against fellow qualifiers Sheffield, and home to bottom club King’s Lynn.
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Wolves boast a 100 per cent record on their own circuit but Peterborough have proved to be fantastic travellers this season with only one defeat on the road – and that came on their previous visit to the West Midlands, by a narrow 47-43 margin.
The Panthers’ strength at reserve has been a massive factor in their success throughout 2021, and on that occasion in early August Hans Andersen piled up 15 points from seven rides.
The Dane will be at reserve once again on Monday, and solid scoring will be required from both sides as they both start a man short and operate the rider-replacement facility.
Panthers have done that for much of the second half of the campaign due to the back injury suffered by Ulrich Ostergaard, whilst Wolves are without their skipper Rory Schlein who is in a 10-day isolation period after testing positive for Covid.
The home side have at least welcomed Nick Morris back from concussion and a leg injury recently, and boss Peter Adams views the meeting as vital.
Adams said: “A win for us will guarantee us top spot, and quite obviously it’s the match of the season so hopefully the terraces will be packed and our supporters can be our extra man.
“Top spot is very important to us, because we don’t want to get sent to somewhere we don’t particularly want to go.
“But it’s all in our hands now as it has been for a while, and a win at home on Monday will mean we can’t be caught.”
The Panthers have a second absentee with Jordan Palin still ruled out due to his broken collarbone, and Drew Kemp steps in as a guest replacement.
Boss Rob Lyon isn’t putting undue pressure on his side, but with a current run of five successive victories he knows they are in good form as the most vital time of the season approaches.
He said: “I guess in football terms it’s a six-pointer, but there are four really good teams in the play-offs, so whether we finish top or second you’re going to have to ride really, really well over two legs to win this thing.
“We’re confident we can do it, we’re confident we’ve got a good enough team to do it, and the boys are on fire at the moment.”
Meanwhile Belle Vue are the other team in the top four, and they seek to build momentum after last week’s win over Sheffield when they host King’s Lynn in their final regular fixture.
Join Nigel Pearson and Kelvin Tatum for all the action live from Wolverhampton v Peterborough on Eurosport 2 from 7.30pm, along with regular updates from Belle Vue v King’s Lynn.
David Rowe
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