Saturday September 11, 2021
LEICESTER’S Championship play-off spot is all-but confirmed after an entertaining 47-43 home win over Edinburgh.

The meeting was not quite as close as the final scoreline suggested as the Watling JCB Lions always held the advantage – but a late fightback from the Monarchs, inspired by Sam Masters and the spectacular Josh Pickering, led to them salvaging a league point which could be vital to their own top six hopes.

And the visitors certainly did enough to show that they could be a threat to any side they face in the play-offs should they qualify.

The Lions put in a solid all-round shift, providing seven of the first nine race winners as they worked their way into a 32-22 lead.

Nick Morris and Ryan Douglas both took wins over Masters, and Douglas also recovered from a slow start to pass Kye Thomson off the final bend of Heat 3.

The Monarchs were well served by guest reserve Jordan Jenkins, who was a clear winner of Heat 2 and then stunned the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena by holding off Hans Andersen for a 5-1 with ex-Lion Richie Worrall in Heat 4.

Morris squeezed around Worrall on the back straight to win Heat 6 and Andersen responded by winning his next ride, although he needed eyes in the back of his head to stay ahead of the hard-charging Pickering.

Dan Thompson took a fine win in Heat 8 and although Jenkins came past Zaine Kennedy for second place, Lions did grab their 5-1 in Heat 9 when the combination of Douglas and Kyle Howarth outpaced Worrall.

Masters came into Heat 10 as a tactical substitute, but it was Pickering who provided the thrills with a dramatic dive under Morris going into the last lap as the Monarchs gained two points back.

But they lost them again in Heat 12 when Thomson appeared to suffer mechanical trouble going into turn three resulting in him coming down and handing Kennedy an extra point.

Andersen split Masters and Worrall in Heat 13 after a tight first turn in which Morris missed out, and Lions secured their victory with a 3-3 behind Pickering in the next race, with Joe Thompson rounding off a display which merited more points than he scored by making it past Jenkins off the final turn.

The visitors needed an advantage from Heat 15 for a league point, and as it was they took a 5-1 as Masters controlled the race whilst Pickering came out on top in a terrific scrap with Douglas, with the two re-passing on several occasions.

Morris said: “I think we were pretty comfortable all the way through the meeting, although they kept it close because they have a team of fighters and good riders.

“We were kind of in control of it all meeting, and we’ve got big meetings to come so it was a good test ahead of those.”

Lions continue a busy spell with a trip to Kent on Tuesday, and then the re-arranged match at Redcar on Friday before the visit of Poole in the KO Cup semi-finals next Saturday.

LEICESTER 47: Ryan Douglas 10+1, Kyle Howarth 9, Nick Morris 8, Hans Andersen 8, Joe Thompson 4+3, Dan Thompson 4, Zaine Kennedy 4.
EDINBURGH 43: Sam Masters 14, Josh Pickering 12+1, Jordan Jenkins 7+1, Richie Worrall 7, Drew Kemp 3+1, Anders Rowe 0, Kye Thomson 0.

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