Saturday July 31, 2021
LEICESTER roared back to top form with a 63-27 demolition of Midlands rivals Birmingham at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday.

Nick Morris scored a five-ride paid maximum whilst Hans Andersen and skipper Kyle Howarth were both paid for the lot from four outings, and there was also a first-ever Heat 15 appearance for youngster Dan Thompson as the Watling JCB Lions ran riot.

Morris was also close to the track record on two occasions, clocking 60.04 in Heat 5, narrowly adrift of the 59.94 mark which stands from Josh Bates in 2019.

The Brummies were limited to just three race wins, although captain Chris Harris was great value as always and guest reserve Jason Edwards also put in 100 per cent effort.

A landslide result looked unlikely after four races when the Lions led by just two points, Edwards having snatched third place from Zaine Kennedy on the run to the line in Heat 2 – with Paco Castagna and Erik Riss having won their opening rides for the visitors.

But the Lions, fired up after recent indifferent performances against Poole, then let rip with a run of five 5-1s and a 4-2 in the next six races to put the match beyond the Brummies.

Andersen produced a superb team-riding job to protect Thompson from the attentions of Riss early in Heat 6, whilst Joe Thompson steamed past James Shanes on the last bend of Heat 7 to complete another 5-1 with Morris.

Joe was involved in more good action in Heat 11 as he and Edwards traded places on several occasions before the Leicester rider finally took third place.

Harris won that race for the visitors but his tactical substitute outing in the next was foiled by Howarth, and the Brummies No.1 was also upstaged in an extraordinary Heat 13.

Andersen led from the off and pulled well clear but the remaining three riders fought out a classic battle with Riss and Douglas neck-and-neck for two laps before Harris made it past both into second place – only for Douglas to make his move on the last bend and complete another 5-1 to the Lions.

Morris and Joe Thompson took the hosts to the brink of the 60-point mark in Heat 14 and they cleared it in the last with Morris completing his maximum in exciting style – running wide at the end of lap two but then chasing and re-passing Harris, whilst Dan Thompson marked his appearance in the race with a point.

The result moves the Lions into fourth place In the Championship ahead of a huge home clash with in-form Edinburgh next Saturday.

Manager Stewart Dickson said “I think Birmingham were a bit off it tonight, it’s been a difficult week for them as a club - but without sounding cold it’s not our problem, although I wish them all the best.

“From a Lions perspective, it was important that we bounced back, and I don’t think the scoreline flattered us to be honest.

“It was the kind of solid, proper team performance that we should be doing, and it was a good response after an indifferent week.

“The track was a little tricky after amount of water it had taken yesterday, but it came better after a couple of gradings and I think it helped us. There was a good feeling in the team, and I did sense beforehand that it was going to be a good night for us.”

LEICESTER 63: Nick Morris 14+1, Hans Andersen 11+1, Kyle Howarth 10+2, Dan Thompson 10+1, Ryan Douglas 9+1, Joe Thompson 7+3, Zaine Kennedy 2.
BIRMINGHAM 27: Chris Harris 11, Erik Riss 5, Paco Castagna 4, Jason Edwards 4, James Shanes 3, Valentin Grobauer 0, Ashley Morris 0.

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