Saturday August 12, 2017
LEICESTER pulled off arguably the result of their season with a 46-44 win over Rye House in a titanic struggle at Beaumont Park on Saturday.

The Watling JCB Lions went into the meeting as second favourites without several team members and facing a Rockets side who had hit 60 points at Poole on Thursday – and who included former World No.2 Krzysztof Kasprzak at reserve.

But Kasprzak’s potentially match-winning impact was negated as the Lions finally prevailed in a meeting where the lead changed hands on four occasions, victory being effectively secured when Rye House’s Chris Harris was disqualified from the final race after a clash with star Lions reserve Josh Bates.

Leicester made a dream start with 5-1s in each of the first two races, Harris coming to grief in Heat 1 as he looked to get on terms with home guests Rory Schlein and Cameron Heeps – whilst Bates and Kyle Newman secured a shock maximum over Kasprzak in the next race.

The Rockets fought back strongly and provided the next five heat winners, narrowing the gap to two points with a maximum in Heat 6 through Kasprzak and the outstanding Scott Nicholls, with Heeps hitting the fence on lap four in his attempts to pass.

And with Stuart Robson in vintage form, navigating his way to the front on the first lap of Heat 7 as Kasprzak was undone by Danny King and Bates, the visitors always looked like they could pounce.

Newman’s second win in Heat 8 broke the run of Rockets successes, but when Nicholls and Robson outpaced Schlein and Heeps in Heat 10, the visitors were in front for the first time.

Leicester’s response was immediate as Bates and King got the better of Harris in a tight first lap of Heat 11, with Rockets guest Tomas H Jonasson sportingly clearing the track after falling on turn two.

King then rode superbly to round Robson in Heat 12, ending the Rye House man’s unbeaten run – but with the Lions set to move into a four-point lead, Newman fell at the start of the last lap when attempting to follow his skipper past Robson.

Nicholls and Harris took advantage of that reprieve with a 5-1 in Heat 13 to put the visitors back ahead, but the meeting swung back in Leicester’s favour in a sensational Heat 14.

Lions’ prospects initially looked grim as Robson and Kasprzak made the start – but Bates and Michael Palm Toft were quickly past the wide-riding Pole, with Bates’s inside run taking him inside Robson coming off turn four.

Crucially for Leicester, Palm Toft then also got the better of Robson on the inside to give them a 5-1 and a two-point lead heading into the final race.

Bates and King went up against Harris and Nicholls, and with Nicholls in front once more there was high drama on turn four as with three riders in close proximity Harris clipped Bates to send the Lions rider heavily into the fence.

Referee Darren Hartley ejected the former British Champion, which meant King and the unscathed Bates were able to follow Nicholls home in the re-run to secure a narrow, but thoroughly deserved, victory.

Manager Jim Lynch said: “We just battled from the first heat to last, and it’s one of the best team efforts I’ve ever been involved in as a manager.

“Every single rider contributed, which is what you want when you have a makeshift team like that, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

“We won the match against probably one of the best teams in the league currently, because of the changes they’ve made. They’ve got three heat-leaders, and that was even before Stuart Robson turned up and rode how he did!

“When we went behind in Heat 13 it was a real blow, but what a talent Josh Bates is – and the only bit of real luck we got was in Heat 15, although Chris did take Josh off.”

Lions now face two away matches next week as they travel to Somerset (Monday) and King’s Lynn (Wednesday) before hosting Belle Vue at Beaumont Park on Saturday.

LEICESTER 46: Josh Bates 13+2, Danny King 11+2, Michael Palm Toft 7+1, Kyle Newman 7+1, Rory Schlein 4+1, Cameron Heeps 4+1, Lasse Bjerre r/r.
RYE HOUSE 44: Scott Nicholls 15+2, Stuart Robson 11+1, Krzysztof Kasprzak 7+1, Chris Harris 6+1, Tomas H Jonasson 4, Ben Morley 1+1, Ben Barker r/r.

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