Monday September 03, 2018
LEICESTER wrapped up their home campaign with a hard-fought 46-44 win over play-off qualifiers Somerset at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

Scott Nicholls and skipper Hans Andersen secured a 3-3 behind the Rebels’ Jack Holder in Heat 15 to seal a narrow triumph from a topsy-turvy encounter.

Lions twice trailed by four points in the early stages before a mid-meeting burst took them eight points clear, only for the visitors to fight back and force a last-heat decider.

And whilst their established stars completed the job, the hero of the night was undoubtedly reserve Connor Mountain, who racked up 9+5 from a seven-ride schedule in easily his best Premiership performance so far.

Mountain shared in three crucial Lions 5-1s, holding his nerve superbly to defeat Richard Lawson and Nico Covatti in Heat 3 before being involved in back-to-back maximums in Heats 8 and 9.

The Rebels took two 5-1s of their own in the early stages with captain Jason Doyle in ominously strong form, as he recovered from an error mid-race in Heat 1 to surge back inside Andersen for the win.

But elsewhere in the Somerset line-up there were problems as Bradley Wilson-Dean crashed in his first two races, whilst Nico Covatti came to grief in both Heats 7 and 10.

Lions turned a 13-17 deficit into a 28-20 lead with three successive 5-1s, before the Rebels got back into contention when Doyle took a tactical substitute ride and partnered Holder to maximum points in Heat 9.

A trading of 4-2s followed with Aaron Summers proving a key reserve for the visitors, and his fast start in Heat 12 almost set up a match-levelling 5-1 only for Charles Wright to snatch second place from Jake Allen.

An exciting Heat 13 saw Nicholls become the first man to lower Doyle’s colours whilst Andersen was squeezed out, and with a two-point lead Lions enjoyed a rare slice of fortune in the penultimate race when Summers threw a chain whilst holding third place which would have tied the match.

Lions’ task in Heat 15 was then made somewhat more straightforward when the Rebels did not select Doyle, citing a back complaint for the World Champion, and although Holder raced clear, Nicholls and Andersen did enough to see off Lawson for the shared race required.

Manager Simon Stead said: “We wanted to go out on the back of a good, positive result, and I think not only have we had that tonight, it’s also been a very enjoyable meeting for everyone.

“The racing was good, the crowd was good, and the result was right. There were some crucial races and whilst I accept we might have got a bit lucky in Heat 14, on a night like this you make your own luck.

“Full credit to all the lads, because without the contribution of all six of them we wouldn’t have got the result.”

Lions now head to King’s Lynn for a double-header on Wednesday which completes their Premiership season, and the club host the National League Riders’ Championship – featuring Mountain – on Sunday September 30 (2.30pm).

LEICESTER 46: Scott Nicholls 11, Connor Mountain 9+5, Hans Andersen 9+1, Charles Wright 9, Ricky Wells 7+2, Stuart Robson 1, Josh Auty r/r
SOMERSET 44: Jason Doyle 13+1, Jack Holder 11+1, Aaron Summers 9+1, Richard Lawson 7, Jake Allen 4+1, Nico Covatti 0, Bradley Wilson-Dean 0

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