Sunday April 28, 2019
LEICESTER saw off Newcastle 53-37 on Sunday to make a winning start to their Championship campaign.

Ellis Perks and Josh Bates were the individual stars for the Watling JCB Lions with Perks winning his first four rides in his best display for the club, whilst Bates ended with a 13-point haul after a typically flamboyant display of riding.

And with a solid, workmanlike performance throughout the rest of the team, the home side were never seriously threatened by an inconsistent Diamonds outfit.

Five of the visiting riders won at least one race but they found heat advantages hard to come by, whilst the Lions took control of the match with three 5-1s in the first six races.

Two of those came from the combination of Perks and Scott Nicholls, who rode a strong first lap to get the better of Newcastle skipper Steve Worrall in Heat 1 – a feat repeated by Bates and Ryan Douglas in Heat 5.

The engine-room pairing could also have had two maximum advantages to their name only for the unlucky Douglas, riding through the pain barrier after his recent shoulder injury, to fall on the third bend in Heat 3.

Newcastle trailed by 14 points after Connor Mountain partnered Perks to a 5-1 in Heat 8 – and their move to give former Lions star Lasse Bjerre a tactical substitute ride in the next race ended only in engine failure for the Dane although Thomas Jorgensen took the win.

Nicholls suffered bike problems of his own in Heat 10, but Perks ensured there would be no Diamonds comeback, whilst Richie Worrall won the first battle with brother Steve in the next thanks to a smart move on turn three, and Jack Thomas passed Simon Lambert for third place.

With the job done for the Lions, Newcastle riders won the last three races with Steve Worrall taking the flag in Heats 13 and 15, the latter seeing Perks’s winning run finally come to an end, but it was of no consequence to the overall outcome.

And Lions’ second-string Perks was still delighted with his impressive display.

He said: “I couldn’t have asked for much more. Everybody did their job tonight and I had a superb night.

“Before every meeting I set myself some goals, and one of those goals has been to win Heat 1, which I hadn’t done so far this season.

“So to hop out and win Heat 1 was a fantastic start for the night and it just went from there, and now we’ve just got to keep up this form to continue our winning run.”

Lions now prepare for two potentially tough encounters next weekend as they face Eastbourne at home on Saturday before travelling to Arlington for the return fixture on Sunday.

LEICESTER 53: Josh Bates 13, Ellis Perks 12, Richie Worrall 9, Scott Nicholls 5+3, Connor Mountain 5+3, Jack Thomas 5, Ryan Douglas 4+3.
NEWCASTLE 37: Steve Worrall 10, Lasse Bjerre 8+2, Matthew Wethers 8, Thomas Jorgensen 7, Max Clegg 3, Simon Lambert 1, Danny Phillips 0.

Picture: MARK HALL

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