Sunday June 16, 2019
LEICESTER seized the initiative in their Championship Shield semi-final with a 54-36 win over Berwick at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Sunday.

The Watling JCB Lions recovered from an edgy start to build up an 18-point advantage which will give them plenty of confidence ahead of next Saturday’s return at Shielfield Park.

A rock-solid team display saw Lions turn around an early four-point deficit as Richie Worrall reeled off three straight race wins and skipper Scott Nicholls produced a number of clever racing moves.

Meanwhile, the Josh Bates/Ryan Douglas combination recorded 5-1s in both Heat 3 and Heat 9, the first of which put the home side back on level terms after conceding two early 4-2s.

The big breakthrough came in an unpredictable Heat 6 where Ellis Perks raced off to win in the fastest time of the meeting, whilst Nicholls found himself stuck in traffic before moving inside Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen when the Dane lifted, and he then surged around Coty Garcia on turn two for the paid-win.

Lions moved six points up and were briefly frustrated by a Jye Etheridge race win in Heat 8, before back-to-back 5-1s saw them take full control.

The first of those was a convincing display from Bates, mounted on a GTR engine loaned to him by the BSPA, whilst Douglas recovered from a spin which had cost him third spot in his second outing.

The second, meanwhile, saw Nicholls switch inside Kevin Doolan on turn four to again join Perks up-front in a race which took place during a brief rain shower.

Worrall defeated Bandits No.1 Aaron Summers in a battle of two unbeaten riders in Heat 11, before Summers split Nicholls and Worrall in Heat 13.

But Leicester still extended their lead by four points across the final five races, and when the Bandits briefly held a 5-1 in Heat 15 Worrall and then Nicholls fought their way back past Doolan to maintain the advantage behind the impressive Summers.

Lions manager Stewart Dickson said: “Berwick started very well, and for some reason they looked a bit sharper than us from the starts, but we never panicked and we got a 22-point swing over the remainder of the meeting.

“We gradually got things together and I don’t think 18 points flatters us in any way. We rode very well, despite not having our gating boots on in the early stages.

“It was a semi-final, both teams were up for it, and the message was sometimes to not go chasing and lose what we had. An 18-point lead is very good.

“Obviously Berwick are going to come out firing next Saturday, but we’ve scored at least 42 points wherever we’ve been this season and we’ll be going there to win the second leg as well.”

LEICESTER 54: Richie Worrall 12, Scott Nicholls 10+3, Josh Bates 9+1, Ryan Douglas 8+1, Ellis Perks 7+1, Connor Mountain 6+1, Jack Thomas 2.
BERWICK 36: Aaron Summers 13, Kevin Doolan 7, Jye Etheridge 6+1, Coty Garcia 4, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 3, Leon Flint 3, Dany Gappmaier 0.

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