NEWCASTLE 44 LIONS 46

Sunday May 19, 2019
LEICESTER’S sensational 2019 campaign continued with a dramatic 46-44 win at Newcastle on Sunday.

The Watling JCB Lions are now six points clear at the top of the Championship table after their second away win in three outings, having survived a nervous finale at Brough Park.

Lions appeared to have seen off the Diamonds’ challenge when the home side saw a big tactical move fail, leaving the visitors eight points up heading into the final five races.

But the Tyneside outfit charged back into contention to narrow the gap to just two points before the last heat – only for their hopes to be dashed with early mechanical trouble for Steve Worrall as Lions duo Scott Nicholls and Richie Worrall got the job done with the 3-3 needed by the Lions.

With Worrall reeling off wins in his opening three rides on his old home track, the visitors had a trump card reserve in Ellis Perks who was also unbeaten in the first half of the meeting.

The duo teamed up for a shock 5-1 over Thomas Jorgensen in Heat 4 to put Leicester ahead for the first time, and Richie won his first clash with brother Steve in Heat 6 to maintain a narrow advantage.

Lions began to pull clear with maximum points in Heat 8 as Connor Mountain produced a fine ride to join Perks up-front, and it was clear that Heat 10 would be crucial as the hosts elected to track Jorgensen as a tactical substitute along with Worrall.

But disaster struck for the Diamonds on the first bend of lap three as race leader Worrall fell due to a thrown chain, forcing the other riders into swift avoiding action, and the Lions were awarded a 4-2 with Ryan Douglas taking the victory.

That appeared to put the visitors in complete control despite a run of race wins for Newcastle, with Jorgensen edging out Nicholls in a classic scrap in Heat 11, whilst Perks was harshly disqualified for a first-bend fall in the next as the home side clawed a couple of points back.

Steve beat Richie Worrall in a shared Heat 13 which took the Lions to the brink of victory, but things became tense in the next race as Douglas fell when chasing Matt Wethers, who completed a 5-1 with Max Clegg to leave the score at 41-43.

But the nerves were eased early in the decider with Steve Worrall quickly in trouble, and although the impressive Wethers got the better of the Lions’ top two, the shared race was enough for Leicester to take the points.

Leicester boss Stewart Dickson said: “I felt we were in control of the meeting until Steve Worrall had his crash before the interval, and it was a rather extended interval, and we lost our momentum with that.

“I don’t often have a go at referees but I felt we were on the wrong end of a bad decision with Ellis Perks in Heat 12, and that was the catalyst for them to get back into it.

“So in the end I’m just relieved to get the victory. The guys knew before Heat 15 that we only needed three points there, and obviously Steve had something go wrong with his bike just after he left the line which was unfortunate for them, but maybe it evened out that decision on Ellis.

“There’s a part of me that says you have to make hay whilst the sun shines, so we could have taken all four (league) points and I’m greedy like that, but fair play to Newcastle because they came back into it and it was good for the supporters.

“It looked like a good crowd and it was pleasing to see so many Leicester fans there, and we gave them a victory. We’ve got ‘plus seven’ from our first three away matches and that’s a very good start.”

Lions are back in action at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena with a local derby against Birmingham next Saturday (May 25).

NEWCASTLE 44: Matt Wethers 13, Thomas Jorgensen 9, Max Clegg 8+1, Steve Worrall 8, Lasse Bjerre 4+2, Simon Lambert 1+1, Danny Phillips 1+1.
LEICESTER 46: Richie Worrall 13, Ellis Perks 10+1, Scott Nicholls 9+2, Ryan Douglas 7, Connor Mountain 4+3, Josh Bates 3+1, Luke Ruddick 0.

Picture: STEVE BROCK



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