The Buildbase Bees' hopes of a successful defence of their Elite League title came to an end with a 52-40 defeat in their play-off semi-final at Peterborough.

The Panthers advanced to the Final, where they will meet Reading, with a solid display from their heat-leaders and a very impressive performance from reserve Richard Hall, who was undoubtedly their key man.

Bees made a dream start to the meeting when skipper Scott Nicholls and Billy Janniro took a shock 5-1 over Panthers star Hans Andersen in the first race, and Coventry held the lead until Heat 6.

But then things turned against them with Chris Harris picking up a shoulder injury in a heavy fall in Heat 7, and both Rory Schlein and Martin Smolinski encountered mechanical trouble.

The scores were still level at the halfway stage, but the Panthers turned the screw with back-to-back 5-1s in Heats 9 and 10 to open up an advantage that Bees were never able to pull back.

There was no shortage of effort, but on this occasion there was no way back into the meeting and Bees must now concentrate their efforts on the Knockout Cup and the Craven Shield.

Co-boss Peter Oakes said: "None of us will take anything away from Peterborough, they did deserve their win and I hope they go and win the Grand Final.

"All credit to our lads because we were written off but we can still reach the Knockout Cup Final and got within a few races of the play-off Final, so you can't point any fingers at anyone. Sometimes you just have to accept
that the opposition were better.

"We had a few little problems, and we all knew that we had to have everything going for us. We could come back on another night and our riders would score more points, but credit to Peterborough who deserve their place in the Final."



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