LEICESTER have secured top spot in the National Development League after a 50-38 win over Oxford – the team they will meet in the title-deciding Grand Final.

Both teams were already assured of top two finishes prior to Saturday’s meeting at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park, as a result of Mildenhall’s defeat at Edinburgh on Friday.

But this was still a fierce battle between the two outstanding teams in the league – and with the Lion Cubs taking the aggregate point by a single point, it means the upcoming Grand Final next month is a mouthwatering prospect.

Skipper Joe Thompson led the way with 14 points as the Cubs ended the Chargers’ eight-match winning run, and he was well backed up with Ashton Boughen and Max Perry both in double figures.

An eventful encounter saw the visitors provide the first three heat wins before Thompson got the Cubs on the board in Heat 4, and they levelled from a narrow early deficit when Ashton Boughen won Heat 6 ahead of Henry Atkins with guest Max Clegg in third place.

But a heavy fall for Vinnie Foord in Heat 7 saw that race awarded after Thompson had been passed by an impressive Luke Killeen, meaning the Chargers led 22-20 approaching the halfway stage.

Leicester then turned on the power with back-to-back 5-1s, first from Boughen and Max James in Heat 8 and then with Perry and Tom Spencer in Heat 9, the latter doing a great job to keep heat-leader Atkins behind him.

Boughen defeated Killeen in Heat 10 to put the Cubs eight points up, before two hugely dramatic and incident-strewn races virtually ensured a home win.

Both Oxford riders Jordan Jenkins and Jody Scott came to grief in Heat 11, with the referee deeming them to be separate incidents, enabling Thompson and James to record an unchallenged 5-0 in the re-run.

And there were multiple stoppages in Heat 12 with James and Oxford’s Ryan Kinsley both being disqualified, before even the two-man race which followed had to be re-run, with Perry eventually getting the better of Jason Garrard for a 3-2.

Thompson won a shared Heat 13 but the Chargers went back ahead on aggregate with a 5-1 in Heat 14, which again was subject to two stoppages.

Heat 15 was also re-run with the visitors somewhat fortunate to keep both riders in the race, but with Thompson out in front of Killeen, Boughen got the better of Garrad in the battle for third place which gave the Cubs the aggregate result by just one point.

Cubs manager Dave Howard said: “The match started off pretty even, but then we had four races that went 19-4 in our favour, and that gave us the advantage.

“We needed a 4-2 from Heat 15 to get the aggregate point and we got it, and it was good for us to get the result against Oxford who are a strong side and the team we’ll be racing against in the Final.

“It was important to keep the positive momentum going, along with our home record, so it was a positive meeting with everybody happy. I like keep that positive nature in the team so that we have everybody thinking positively as well, so it was a great performance by the team overall.

“There were quite a few crashes during the meeting, but it was very good to see that nobody from either side was injured, that was good from both points of view.

“We know it’s going to be a tough challenge against Oxford in the Grand Final but the result gives us that confidence that we wanted.”

The Lion Cubs complete their regular league campaign at home to Mildenhall this Friday (September 29) with tapes up at 7.30pm.

LEICESTER 50: Joe Thompson 14, Ashton Boughen 12, Max Perry 10, Max James 6+2, Tom Spencer 4+2, Max Clegg 3+1, Vinnie Foord 1+1.
OXFORD 38: Luke Killeen 12+1, Jason Garrad 9+1, Jordan Jenkins 8, Henry Atkins 6+1, Ryan Kinsley 2, Jody Scott 1, Jacob Clouting 0.
Leicester win the aggregate point

Next Home Meeting

Leicester Cubs V Scunthorpe Stags / Sheffield Prowlers
May 19, 2024

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