Sunday June 06, 2021
LEICESTER were taken right down to the wire before securing a 48-41 win over Berwick in their home Championship opener.

The Bandits refused to lie down throughout an exciting encounter and took the match into a last-heat decider.

But ultimately, they were to go home with nothing as Watling JCB Lions No.1 Nick Morris completed a paid maximum, whilst Ryan Douglas overtook Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen on the run to the line which prevented the visitors from taking a consolation league point.

Few would have denied the Bandits that point as they gave the Lions a thoroughly awkward afternoon, right from the moment both home riders crashed out of Heat 3.

Skipper Kyle Howarth slammed into the back straight fence and was fortunate to avoid injury, whilst Josh Bates slid off when third in the re-run to hand the Bandits a 5-0.

And with Dany Gappmaier displaying form not usually associated with the Austrian around the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena, and Leon Flint a constant threat at reserve, the Bandits remained in the contest.

Lions went ahead in Heat 6 with a win from Morris and a battling second for Ty Proctor, getting the better of Kyle Bickley on the last lap, but Berwick hit straight back with a 5-1 of their own in the next as Douglas was surprisingly relegated to the back.

It was nip-and-tuck thereafter with Joe Thompson taking the scalp of Gappmaier in Heat 8, and it took until Heat 10 for Leicester to edge back ahead with a 4-2 from Morris and Proctor.

The lead was held at one point and it looked to stay that way in Heat 13, but the Lions enjoyed a massive stroke of fortune when Busk Jakobsen blew his engine on the last lap allowing Douglas and Morris through for a 5-1.

But with Flint taking care of Heat 14, it was a relief for the Lions to have Dan Thompson taking an excellent second place over Gappmaier to leave them three-up going into the decider.

Morris forced his way to the front in a competitive first bend, whilst the Bandits’ hopes took a big hit when Jye Etheridge fell on turn three – but they still looked set for a league point until the late move from Douglas on Busk Jakobsen.

Leicester boss Stewart Dickson said: “It was harsh on Berwick to get nothing, because it takes two teams to have a good meeting.

“We aren’t firing on all cylinders, I know that, and I think everybody watching the meeting today would have known that.

“Berwick will certainly feel they deserved a point and they rode well enough to get it, whilst for us there were some encouraging signs and also one or two concerning ones too.

“We certainly can’t ask any more from the Thompsons at reserve. I was talking to Dougy after the meeting and he said straight away you can see the potential, they listen, and they’re doing things on-track that natural speedway riders do.

“We need to get them a wee bit sharper out of the gate, but winning races at National League level will help them, and Nick and Dougy have both said they’re willing to come in, work with the boys, and see if we can get their set-ups right for the starts.

“If they can make gates, I think they’ll win races because they’re certainly quick enough.”

Lions return to action with a trip to Edinburgh on Friday, before hosting Scunthorpe in the second leg of their KO Cup tie on Saturday.

Tickets are now available from the new service of and supporters are asked to note the £1 booking fee which goes direct to the agents.

LEICESTER 48: Nick Morris 14+1, Ryan Douglas 11+1, Kyle Howarth 8, Ty Proctor 5+2, Dan Thompson 5, Joe Thompson 4+1, Josh Bates 1+1.
BERWICK 41: Leon Flint 11, Jye Etheridge 8+2, Nikolaj B Jakobsen 7+1, Dany Gappmaier 7, Aaron Summers 5, Kyle Bickley 3+2, Coty Garcia r/r.

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