Wednesday June 29, 2022
LEICESTER duo Nick Morris and Richie Worrall produced a brilliant Heat 15 5-1 a seal a 47-43 triumph in a thriller at Oxford.

The Watling JCB Lions took their fifth counting away win of the Championship season (not including their expunged result at Newcastle) to end their regular away schedule, and they are now 12 points clear at the top of the table.

It was a tense, competitive encounter at Cowley with never more than two points between the sides prior to the decider, with the scores level going into the race.

Worrall, off gate two, had the job of clamping stand-in Oxford skipper Troy Batchelor inside him, and he did so with a textbook move whilst Morris surged around the outside to the delight of a large and vocal Lions travelling following.

Earlier, Lions had worked hard to establish themselves in the meeting with early wins for Morris and Worrall, but they had a stroke of misfortune in Heat 4 when both skipper Kyle Howarth and Oxford guest Jordan Jenkins fell in what appeared unconnected incidents, with only Howarth being disqualified.

The Cheetahs took a 4-2 in the re-run, but Lions levelled immediately through Morris and Connor Mountain in Heat 5.

Worrall had to come from the back in Heat 7 to split Batchelor and Jenkins on the last lap, and just as the home side had done, Leicester levelled immediately with a fine ride by Dan Thompson in the next whilst home man Cameron Heeps crashed going into the last bend in his efforts to pass.

The Cheetahs made the next move in Heat 10 when Heeps was a surprise winner over Worrall for a 4-2, the Leicester man delayed in a battle with Erik Riss, and Batchelor made it three wins out of three in a re-started Heat 11 after Ruml ran out of room having been passed by Mountain and came down.

But the meeting turned in Heat 12 when Lions guest Jason Edwards made a fast start along with Worrall and thwarted every effort from Jenkins and Paul Starke to put Leicester into the lead for the first time.

Batchelor was then disqualified for Heat 13 for movement at the start, clearly transgressing from the outside after a warning earlier in the meeting despite his displeasure at the decision, but Riss prevented further damage for the Cheetahs by holding Morris and Howarth at bay in the re-run.

A last-heat decider appeared inevitable and it duly arrived with Ruml rounding Edwards to win Heat 14, but crucially the Lions stand-in held Aaron Summers back for second place to leave the scores at 42-42.

And that set things up for Worrall and Morris to do their jobs superbly in the decider and add three more points to the Lions’ Championship total.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “It was a great meeting, a great advert for the Championship, and we did want to win here to finish our final away league meeting with a win.

“It was nip-and-tuck throughout, how a good meeting should be, it all came down to Heat 15 and it was a really tough first bend, with no quarter asked or given by four top Championship riders, and we managed to get the 5-1 so obviously I’m very pleased!

“When we found out the gate choice, I was always going to go with Richie off gate two – Richie is my go-to rider when I need a job done to clamp somebody, and when they picked one and three, Richie was the man for that job off two.

“He managed to do it, and Nick got a stormer off gate four, which is a hard part as well, because when somebody does that job you’ve got a responsibility then to reward that rider by being there when he looks for you!

“It was a superb finish, and I’m so pleased especially because we had a fantastic away support tonight, massive away support, and it’s great to get the three points for them.”

The Lions now take a break until they launch their Summer Trophy schedule at Redcar on July 15, with the Lion Cubs taking centre stage in this weekend’s KO Cup semi-final against Berwick. The home leg is on Sunday at 4pm.

OXFORD 43: Troy Batchelor 10, Erik Riss 8, Dillon Ruml 8, Aaron Summers 6+1, Cameron Heeps 5+2, Paul Starke 3+1, Jordan Jenkins 3
LEICESTER 47: Nick Morris 13, Richie Worrall 12+1, Kyle Howarth 7+1, Dan Thompson 7, Jason Edwards 5+2, Connor Mountain 3+1, Joe Thompson 0
Championship points: Oxford 0 Leicester 3

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