Storm brewing for defending champions

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Derby Storm coach Jeff Jones is firing his players up to replace defending champions Sheffield Sharks in the Budweiser League's top three tomorrow, when the clubs meet at Ponds Forge, writes Duncan Hooper.

"I think we've made some progress over the past couple of weeks and this will give me a chance to gauge how far we've come," Jones said.

The Storm jumped to fourth place with Thursday night's 103-62 win over Hemel Royals and now they can catch the overworked Sharks between two more difficult international dates. Last Tuesday Sheffield lost by 13 points at home to Sunair Ostend and travel on Monday for the return leg of their European Cup third qualifying round tie in Belgium.

They have looked jaded in the aftermath of the McDonald's Championship and European games against clubs with full-time professionals on unrestricted salary budgets.

Manchester Giants are offering half-price admission for tonight's League game with Thames Valley Tigers to any spectator who arrives dressed for Halloween.

Mid-week results in the 7-Up trophy qualifying groups secured quarter- final places for Derby, Chester Jets, Worthing Bears and Birmingham Bullets who enter Monday's draw with seeded Sheffield, Thames Valley, Manchester and London Towers.