Saturday May 25, 2019
LEICESTER moved nine points clear at the top of the Championship with an emphatic 58-32 win over Midlands neighbours Birmingham on Saturday.

The Watling JCB Lions overcame another early crash for the unlucky Josh Bates to dominate their home clash with the Brummies, which took place in front of a big Bank Holiday crowd.

Skipper Scott Nicholls raced to a four-ride paid maximum including several examples of unselfish team-riding, and the other regular Lions were also in the major points – with reserve Ellis Perks taking extra rides to cover for Bates to rack up a paid-16 total from seven outings.

Bate came to grief within yards of the start of Heat 3 as he looped out of the gate and fell heavily.

There was understandable concern over the former British Under-21 Champion both on-track and then during an extensive examination in the medical room, but early indications are that he has escaped with rib and neck discomfort, and no damage to his back.

Without Bates and World Under-21 participant Jack Thomas – who scored a creditable six points in Poland – the Lions could have faced a tough battle, but their remaining riders quickly set about the task as Perks and Connor Mountain took on an increased schedule.

Perks and Richie Worrall put them ahead with a 5-1 in Heat 4 as visiting heat-leader Ulrich Ostergaard fell on the first bend, and Nicholls allowed Mountain to head up another maximum advantage two races later, again at the expense of the Dane.

The Brummies pegged things briefly with a successful tactical substitute win for Adam Ellis, inflicting Worrall’s only defeat of the evening, but back-to-back 5-1s in Heats 9 and 10 put a lock on the points.

Ryan Douglas raced to his third straight win in the former, whilst the latter saw Nicholls cleverly ease Ashley Morris aside to create space for Mountain to follow him through.

But Morris deserved the most credit in the Brummies’ side as he responded to win Heats 12 and 14, which ultimately prevented the Lions from going through the 60-point barrier.

It was still a more than convincing victory, though, with Worrall and Nicholls getting the better of Ellis and Ostergaard in Heat 13, and the last race saw Douglas and Worrall team up to finish the meeting on a high.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “We’ve done it in a few meetings this season, and I think it’s the sign of a good team and a collective team that we still go on and win when a rider gets injured.

“I hate to see any rider go down, especially like that, because our hearts were in our mouths when we saw Josh fall, but he seems to be okay and that’s the main thing.

“When it was 9-9 it looked like it could be a tough night, but the way we’re built we have strength at the bottom end, and everybody is mucking in. Good teams are tested along the way and it’s about how you react to adversity.

“This team is really collective, we are a tight unit and they know what they want to do this season. Things are going well, we can’t get carried away but I know we’ve got a good team.”

Lions now have a two-week break from league action before Edinburgh visit the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday June 8, but the Lion Cubs are in home action against Stoke next SUNDAY (June 2, 4pm).

LEICESTER 58: Ellis Perks 15+1, Richie Worrall 13+1, Ryan Douglas 12+2, Scott Nicholls 10+2, Connor Mountain 8+2, Josh Bates 0, Ryan MacDonald 0.
BIRMINGHAM 32: Ashley Morris 10+1, James Shanes 7+1, Adam Ellis 7, Ulrich Ostergaard 3, Paco Castagna 3, Nathan Stoneman 2, Zach Wajktnecht r/r.

Share This:   Facebook Twitter