BERWICK 41 LION CUBS 49 (68-112)

Saturday July 23, 2022
LEICESTER Lion Cubs are safely through to the NDL KO Cup Final after completing the job at Berwick on Saturday – and more!

The Cubs took a 36-point lead to Shielfield Park meaning only a catastrophe would have seen them fail to qualify, but in the event they became the first visiting team this season to be successful at the Border venue with an impressive 49-41 victory on the night.

Dan Thompson scored an impeccable 12-point maximum but this was the perfect all-round team performance as the Cubs recorded just five last places – and three of those were due to falls.

Elsewhere in the side, Connor Coles dropped only one point before falling in Heat 15, and youngster Max Perry also earned a call-up for that race and duly secured second place, completing a paid-10 return which saw him score in each outing.

For the Bullets to have had any chance of an unlikely comeback, they had to make fast start – but what happened was exactly the reverse.

Home No.1 Kyle Bickley retired from the back of Heat 1, Perry and Vinnie Foord both passed Kyran Lyden for a 3-3 in Heat 2, and Coles teamed up with Tom Spencer for a big Cubs 5-1 in Heat 3 to put the visitors six-up on the night.

The Bullets got the gap down to two, and could have levelled in the second leg but for Foord’s pass on Mason Watson in Heat 9, although by that stage the Cubs were already mathematically through to the Final.

But there was no let-up as they pulled clear again with Coles taking an excellent win in Heat 10, Dan Thompson becoming the first rider to beat Greg Blair in Heat 11, and then Foord and Coles raced to a 5-1 over Watson and Ben Rathbone in the next.

Thompson made it four out of four by beating Bickley in Heat 13 whilst Joe Thompson got the better of Blair, who crashed on the last lap.

The Bullets ended with two consolation 4-2s with Spencer and Coles suffering falls for the Cubs, but it was still a convincing away victory, and an even more convincing aggregate triumph.

Manager Dave Howard said: “The first thing was to score the 28 points we needed to get to the Final, but we were ahead from Heat 1 and ahead all through the meeting, and it’s great to keep the away momentum going.

“After the very good performance at Oxford on Wednesday it’s great to get another away win, and to confirm our place in the Final against Mildenhall.

“We used Max and Connor in Heat 15, obviously Dan and Joe raced last night and are racing again tomorrow, and we’d already won the meeting – the reserves can only go in if they’re in the top three scorers, and Max was, so we gave him the ride and he got a second place.

“Max got faster and faster as the meeting went on, and also Tom’s gating was so good tonight as well, he’d been working on his bikes to get that better, and Vinnie in his last ride made a storming start to win that one.

“Connor was solid again and had an unfortunate fall in Heat 15, and Mickie (Simpson) was really fighting. He had quite a heavy fall in his third ride which winded him, but he was okay to take his last ride and got another third place.

“Dan got a great maximum and Joe chipped in with points, so it was a great performance and it just keeps the momentum going with another away win.”

Dates for the KO Cup Final against Mildenhall will be confirmed in due course.

BERWICK 41: Kyle Bickley 10, Luke Crang 9, Greg Blair 8, Ace Pijper 7, Ben Rathbone 5, Mason Watson 2+1, Kyran Lyden 0.
LEICESTER 49: Dan Thompson 12, Connor Coles 9+2, Max Perry 9+1, Joe Thompson 7, Vinnie Foord 5+2, Tom Spencer 5+1, Mickie Simpson 2.
Leicester win 112-68 on aggregate.

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