Saturday July 16, 2022
LEICESTER overcame a strong challenge from Edinburgh to win 47-42 and move to within one more victory of confirming top spot in the Championship table.

The Watling JCB Lions made a flying start at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena and were eight points up inside three races – which was just as well, because the Monarchs then put up one of the best performances of any visiting team this season, and thoroughly deserved their league point which assists their own play-off push.

Nick Morris won his first four races before missing out to Edinburgh guest Richard Lawson in Heat 15, although he did have a stroke of fortune in Heat 1 when Lawson suffered mechanical trouble whilst leading, to hand the home side a 5-1.

They followed up with consecutive 4-2s in Heats 2 and 3, but the Monarchs were always competitive and both Kyle Howarth and Morris were given tough rides by the spectacular Josh Pickering before taking further Leicester race wins.

Lawson was the only visiting rider to take the flag in the opening eight races, with Joe Thompson pulling off a great ride to take Heat 8 after Connor Mountain had come down in the initial staging.

With James Sarjeant falling in the re-run when trying to drive inside Thompson, that became a 3-2 and opened the lead up to nine points – but this was quickly cut to five with a successful tactical substitute for the Monarchs as Lawson passed Richie Worrall at the end of the first lap of Heat 9 to join Pickering for a 5-1.

The sides then traded 4-2s with Lawson inflicting a first defeat of the night on Howarth in Heat 11, but the Monarchs never got closer than to within five points.

And the Lions made a massive move towards victory in a terrific Heat 13 with Morris emerging on top in competitive first bend, Pickering blasting his way into second, and then Howarth steaming inside Lawson on turn three for a 4-2 – after Lawson had exchanged words with the start marshal prior to the race.

That meant Edinburgh needed two 5-1s to win, but although Paco Castagna popped up to take Heat 14, Thompson – in after Max Clegg broke the tapes – and Mountain rode solidly for second and third over Sarjeant.

But there was to be some reward for the Monarchs, albeit at no cost to the Lions’ own position, with a 4-2 from Lawson and Pickering in Heat 15, split by Morris, meaning they could head back to Armadale with a league point taking them up to fourth in the table.

Morris said: “It was an important win, and a really tough night. The boys from Edinburgh stuck it to us, and a few parts of the team are struggling so hopefully we can get those boys going.

“We needed to keep the home unbeaten streak going to make sure we can stay on top of the league, and it wasn’t easy, but we got it done.

“The plan now is to beat Berwick next Sunday, but we won’t take anything for granted. They haven’t had the best of seasons but anything can happen on the day, and when you’ve got a guy like Bomber (Chris Harris) leading your team then half of your battle is sorted!

“But hopefully we can do what we’ve done all year and finish the job.”

LEICESTER 47: Nick Morris 14, Richie Worrall 9, Kyle Howarth 9, Joe Thompson 8, Connor Mountain 5+2, Max Clegg 2, Dan Thompson r/r.
EDINBURGH 42: Richard Lawson 11+1, Josh Pickering 10, Kye Thomson 8, Lasse Fredriksen 5, Paco Castagna 4+1, James Sarjeant 3+1, Jacob Hook 1+1.

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