Monday April 16, 2018
LEICESTER sent out a major statement of intent with a resounding 55-35 win over Somerset in their Premiership opener on Monday.

The injury-hit Watling JCB Lions tore into the Rebels from the off, establishing a 14-point advantage after just four races, and their supremacy was never in question.

Amongst the stand-out displays were another superb display from Danish ace Hans Andersen, who twice got the better of World Champion Jason Doyle on his way to a 14-point score.

Fellow winter signing Krystian Pieszczek cemented his reputation as a crowd-pleaser with three race wins – one of them against Doyle – whilst Kyle Newman was unbeaten from his first four outings on his way to paid-13 at reserve.

Meanwhile guest Robert Lambert dropped just one point as he stood in for Martin Vaculik, and produced the ride of the night with a breathtaking double-overtake in Heat 10.

The Rebels didn’t help their own cause in the early stages as Jake Allen clattered into Doyle on the second bend of Heat 1, putting Doyle out of the race and leaving the Lions with a clear 5-1 – and the visitors staged a repeat performance in Heat 2 with Jonas Jeppesen coming to grief after clipping team-mate Bradley Wilson-Dean.

To compound their woes, Wilson-Dean had to go from the handicap in the re-run after suffering mechanical trouble, and he again incurred the wrath of the referee by bringing Newman down in a bid to take second place in Heat 4.

All of that helped the Lions to record three 5-1s and a 4-2 and leave the visitors making their tactical substitute move as early as Heat 5 with Jack Holder coming in – but Pieszczek swept around him whilst also getting the better of Doyle to prevent any damage.

Newman and Lambert then raced clear of Richard Lawson in Heat 6, and James Sarjeant was unlucky in the next when he came down on turn two after making a fast start.

There was some rare joy for the Rebels with a 5-1 from Allen and Wilson-Dean in Heat 8 as Pieszczek for once missed out, but the Pole quickly teamed up with skipper Danny King for more maximum points in the next.

Lambert then rode a sensational Heat 10 race which begun with him attempting to go around Holder – but at the end of lap two, leader Charles Wright lifted slightly on bend 4 allowing Lambert the chance to slice between the two visitors in spectacular style.

Andersen fended off Doyle to win their first clash in Heat 11 before Wright picked up a race win with some early fence-scraping to defeat King, but by this stage the Rebels were only staging a damage limitation effort.

Doyle’s sole victory came in the clash of the big guns as he defeated Andersen and Lambert in Heat 13, but Pieszczek and Sarjeant took the Lions over the 50-point mark in Heat 14 – Holder working hard to split them on lap two – before Andersen finished with a trademark fast start to defeat Doyle and Holder in the final race.

Leicester boss Simon Stead said: “It’s always a bit difficult when your team is a little unsettled and it’s not the usual one-to-seven, and also with not really having had a proper competitive fixture here either.

“But the boys were fantastic tonight and I can’t ask for any more from them. There was 100 per cent effort from every single one of them.

“Obviously our thanks go to Rob for stepping in and being a great guest, and I’m pleased with all of our riders.

“It was also pleasing to see a good crowd in so we thank everyone for their support, and now it’s onwards to Wednesday.”

Lions head to Somerset for the return fixture this Wednesday, and are back at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena next Monday for the visit of champions Swindon.

LEICESTER 55: Hans Andersen 14, Kyle Newman 11+2, Krystian Pieszczek 11, Robert Lambert 9+2, Danny King 7+1, James Sarjeant 3+1, Michael Palm Toft r/r.
SOMERSET 35: Jack Holder 9+3, Jason Doyle 8+1, Charles Wright 7, Jake Allen 4, Bradley Wilson-Dean 3+1, Richard Lawson 3, Jonas Jeppesen 1.

Picture: MARK HALL

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