Saturday May 07, 2022
LEICESTER kept the ball rolling with a 55-35 win over Oxford at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena to go back to the top of the Championship table.

The Watling JCB Lions had been usurped by Glasgow on Friday evening, but another convincing home performance saw them take over at the summit once again.

And once again it was a dominant display from Lions star Nick Morris, who raced to a 12-point maximum and smashed the track record that he himself had lowered last week.

Morris stormed round in 59.37 in Heat 5, taking nearly half a second off the mark – and Richie Worrall also went under the old record later in the evening.

Worrall enjoyed another strong night with three wins and 13 points, whilst skipper Kyle Howarth won his opening three rides and there were solid contributions right down the Lions order.

The Cheetahs were limited to four race wins, two of which occurred in the opening two races, including a Heat 1 victory for former Leicester captain Scott Nicholls over Worrall.

But with Josh Macdonald’s injury comeback proving premature, fellow reserve Dillon Ruml was called to take an arduous seven-ride shift, and the Lions generally controlled the twin top-order threat of Nicholls and Troy Batchelor.

Morris and Connor Mountain put the home side ahead with a 5-1 in Heat 3, and a run of four successive 4-2s followed as Leicester took control of proceedings, Worrall getting the better of Batchelor with a fine ride in Heat 6.

Dan Thompson joined Worrall for a 5-1 in Heat 10 over Cameron Heeps and former Lions rider Jack Thomas, and a somewhat surprising tactical substitute move with Kyle Newman coming into Heat 12 saw the Cheetahs concede another maximum to Morris and Joe Thompson, who rode superbly for his paid win.

Batchelor frustrated Worrall and Howarth by winning Heat 13, with Howarth coming to grief on the last lap, but Leicester managed one further advantage from Mountain and Anders Rowe in Heat 14 before Worrall won a shared finale.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “It was a decent scoreline, three points, and sending probably a play-off hopeful team away without any points.

“Our heat-leaders were once again on fire today, with the rest of the team chipping in with valuable points as well.

“We took a lot of dirt off the start line, which I know the riders had mentioned to us, we spread it around the track and tried to pack it in, and maybe there was just a wee bit too much dirt in certain areas, so we had to do an extended grade.

“But we got on with it and it settled itself down, and we got some better racing towards the end.

“Oxford were down to six riders straight after the second race, which can stretch both men and machinery, but I think we should maybe look at the home team and say we deserve a bit of credit rather than saying they were below expectations. All in all, it’s three points and another good night for us.”

The Lions are back in action at Edinburgh on Friday, and the next meeting at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena sees the Lion Cubs race their first match of the season against Belle Vue next Saturday (May 14).

LEICESTER 55: Richie Worrall 13, Nick Morris 12, Kyle Howarth 9, Dan Thompson 6+2, Connor Mountain 6+1, Joe Thompson 5+3, Anders Rowe 4.
OXFORD 35: Troy Batchelor 11, Scott Nicholls 9+1 Cameron Heeps 6, Dillon Ruml 5+1, Kyle Newman 4+1, Jack Thomas 0, Josh Macdonald 0.

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