KING'S LYNN 44 LIONS 46

20/07/2023

KING'S LYNN 44 LIONS 46

LEICESTER made it a superb eight Sports Insure Premiership wins on the spin with a 46-44 victory at King’s Lynn on Thursday.

The Watling JCB Lions put in a solid all-round effort at the Adrian Flux Arena and their win on the night was confirmed before the final race, although they did receive a scare in Heat 14.

But the result moves them to within eight points of leaders Belle Vue, who lost at Sheffield, and the Lions have six matches in hand on the defending champions.

There was little to separate the sides in the early stages in Norfolk with Stars No.1 Artem Laguta switching inside Max Fricke off turn two in the opening battle of the top men in Heat 1.

That was the first of six shared races with skipper Chris Harris the first rider to take the flag for the Lions with a super effort to work his way to the front in Heat 3.

Richard Lawson added a win in Heat 4 but the scores remained level with Drew Kemp taking a fall on the first bend having made a good start – and it was 15-15 shortly after with Nicolai Klindt holding off a strong four-lap challenge from Fricke.

Lawson kept Laguta at bay throughout a competitive Heat 6 with Jake Allen unlucky to be left with little room on the back straight, but the meeting was about to turn in the Lions’ favour.

Troy Batchelor trapped from the inside in Heat 7 with Chris Harris quickly joining him around the outside, and the Leicester captain team-rode superbly to keep Klindt in third place.

One Leicester 5-1 was followed by another in Heat 8 as Kemp made a sensational start and Justin Sedgmen took care of Kye Thomson on the first bend, with the visitors largely unchallenged as they went 28-20 up.

That prompted the Stars to make a tactical change by bringing Laguta into Heat 9 but the effect of his win was negated by Thomas Jorgensen’s disqualification for blasting through the tapes, with Allen doing enough to keep replacement Lambert behind him.

There was a possible fightback in Heat 10 when the home side gated on a 5-1 but a decisive move from Harris on the third lap saw him storm inside Thomson into turn three, and that limited the damage to a 4-2.

And it was back to the 3-3s in the next race with Fricke well clear ahead a frantic scrap for the places as Sedgmen was squeezed out by Klindt and Lambert, leaving the score at 36-30 in the Lions’ favour.

They moved the gap up to eight points with a 4-2 in Heat 12, an early 5-1 position between Allen and Batchelor being split by Lambert, and a competitive Heat 13 saw Fricke clamp Laguta on turn one and race off into the distance, before Laguta salvaged third place from Lawson.

That left the Stars needing 5-1s in the last two races to draw 45-45 and set up a Super Heat, and the first of those looked on the cards when Harris was left at the start in Heat 14 – but he took his time to size up the situation, and finally charged inside Jorgensen heading into the last lap for the second place the Lions needed to secure victory.

It also gave them the luxury of resting Fricke from Heat 15, where Laguta and Klindt raced to a consolation 5-1 for the Stars, but that didn’t detract from a job well done by the Lions.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “It was a thoroughly professional performance, everybody scored points and it’s no secret that’s been the make-up of our team all season.

“It wasn’t a bad meeting either but from the midway point when we got ahead I always felt we were in control. We had a little scare in Heat 14 when they were on a 5-1, but Bomber managed to get the second spot.

“King’s Lynn put up a good fight under the circumstances especially after the news that Rory Schlein wasn’t racing, although they did get paid-ten from rider replacement.

“But all in all it was a good close meeting, we’re happy to get the win and we had a great travelling support once again, and they made plenty of noise.”

Lions now take a week off with the World Cup taking place in Wroclaw, but they are back in action with another big home clash against Ipswich on Monday July 31 (7.30pm).

KING’S LYNN 44: Artem Laguta 15+1, Nicolai Klindt 11+2, Simon Lambert 7+2, Anders Rowe 5, Kye Thomson 3+1, Thomas Jorgensen 3, Michael Palm Toft r/r.
LEICESTER 46: Chris Harris 10+1, Max Fricke 10, Richard Lawson 8, Justin Sedgmen 5+2, Jake Allen 5+2, Drew Kemp 4+1, Troy Batchelor 4.

Photo credit: DEREK LEADER

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