LIONS 55 EASTBOURNE 34 (Agg: 103-76)

Sunday September 15, 2019
LEICESTER have made club history with their first-ever item of national team silverware.

The Watling JCB Lions defeated Eastbourne 55-34 at a packed Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Sunday to complete a 103-76 aggregate victory in the Championship Shield Final.

And jubilant riders and management have immediately set their sights on completing a double, with their all important semi-final selection to be made early this week for the league title play-offs.

Lions had done much of their hard work in the Shield at Arlington on Saturday when they pulled off a stunning 48-42 first leg victory.

But they still had a job to complete at home, and they did so in clinical fashion with an all-round display which never gave the Eagles a chance of getting back into the Final.

From the moment a revitalised Ty Proctor and skipper Scott Nicholls jetted away for a 5-1 in Heat 1, the visitors’ task looked too much – especially with captain Edward Kennett a non-starter in the second leg having missed the first on Longtrack duty.

There was a slight scare for Leicester in Heat 4 when Ryan Douglas took a heavy fall after Nathan Stoneman had got out of shape on turn two, but the Australian star picked himself up to top-score with eleven points.

And Lions put the tie virtually beyond their opponents with back-to-back 5-1s in Heats 5 and 6, as guest Josh Pickering combined with Ellis Perks in the former, whilst Nicholls slipped inside Eastbourne captain Richard Lawson off turn two to again team up with a fast-starting Proctor in the next.

Proctor and Connor Mountain added another 5-1 in Heat 8, Mountain re-passing Kyle Newman on his way to second place, and there were some more eventful races as Lions got closer to securing the silverware.

Nicholls produced a classy ride in Heat 10 to first ease aside Newman on turn two before surging inside Lewis Kerr going into the second lap to take the win – whilst Proctor chased Newman and got his reward with an inside pass off the final bend for third place.

Douglas and Joe Lawlor picked up a 4-2 in Heat 11 which put the Lions into an unassailable aggregate lead and sparked celebrations at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

Perks superbly chased and passed Newman on the last bend of Heat 12, before a bizarre Heat 13 saw both Lions riders hit trouble on the first two turns, Douglas falling and Nicholls being left some way back – only for Eastbourne guest Kevin Doolan to fall on the third bend when holding a clear 5-1, meaning the Eagles’ first advantage was a 3-2.

They collected a 4-2 in Heat 14 as Kerr took his second win of the meeting, but the Lions finished on a high as Douglas defeated Lawson in Heat 15 with Perks supplying third place.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “We rode very well over the two nights, and when you look back over this competition we’re raced ten matches and won nine of them – so we thoroughly deserve to win the Championship Shield.

“It’s some achievement, to win both legs of the Final is fantastic – and it was great to see the reaction of the supporters, because obviously trophies aren’t something we’ve been used to here.

“We’ve got one in my first season, so maybe that’s a bit quicker than even I thought, but it’s a great way to finish off the Shield and now we have the play-offs to look forward to.

“The riders have been great throughout, and that’s why I made sure Richie Worrall and Josh Bates were here, because they played a big part in getting us to the Final. I like to keep them involved, and they deserve a medal every bit as much as the guys who were out on-track tonight.”

Play-off news should follow in the near future, but the next meeting at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena is the prestigious National League Riders’ Championship on Sunday September 22 (3pm).

LEICESTER 55: Ryan Douglas 11, Ty Proctor 10, Scott Nicholls 9+2, Josh Pickering 9, Ellis Perks 8+3, Connor Mountain 7+2, Joe Lawlor 1.
EASTBOURNE 34: Richard Lawson 12, Lewis Kerr 10, Kyle Newman 4+1, Kevin Doolan 4, Nathan Stoneman 3, Jason Edwards 1+1, Georgie Wood r/r.
Leicester win 103-76 on aggregate.

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