LEICESTER got their Premiership campaign off to a winning start by defeating Peterborough 47-42 at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park.

The Watling JCB Lions led for most of the meeting but were unable to pull fully clear as the Panthers battled away, with the visitors superbly served by former Leicester rider Richie Worrall and lively reserve Ben Cook.

But there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Lions with new signing Justin Sedgmen displaying some super-fast starting on his way to three race wins, whilst skipper Chris Harris took the flag twice despite some early mechanical trouble.

Both sides were hit by problems with conditions difficult following a heavy afternoon downpour, but the extensive winter work at least enabled the meeting to take place as the Lions put two league points on the board.

Sedgmen and Richard Lawson were early race winners for the home side although there was an early let-off in Heat 2 when Panthers reserve Jordan Jenkins ground to a halt when he looked set for a 5-1 with Cook.

Harris was timed out of Heat 3 due to problems at the start line, but he responded to win Heat 5 which had only two finishers after Benjamin Basso crashed on the back straight following contact with Richard Lawson, and Lawson then hit trouble in the re-run.

Sedgmen and Max Fricke raced to the first 5-1 of the night in Heat 6 to give the Lions a five-point lead, and the next four races were shared with Nick Morris taking Heat 7 and Sedgmen made it a hat-trick in Heat 8 although Jenkins re-passed Dan Thompson for the Panthers.

Lions appeared to be taking control with a big 5-1 in Heat 11 as Jake Allen shot from the start and partnered Morris to maximum points over Iversen, but Worrall and Cook hit straight back in the next as they held off the challenge of Lawson.

The margin was back at five points heading into the closing stages, and Max Fricke produced one of the best rides of the night to pass Niels-Kristian Iversen in Heat 13, an important move given that Morris had retired on lap one.

Harris effectively made the meeting safe by winning Heat 14, meaning the Lions just needed a finisher from the last race, which ultimately was shared 3-3 with no stopping the flying Worrall out-front.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “It’s a good two points to get started with. Conditions were difficult for both sides and there were a lot of teething problems on a heavy track.

“The most important thing was to get a victory, and we managed to do that. It wasn’t pretty, but at the same time we got the win.

“Justin was the match-winner for us, I’ll not dress it up any other way. He deserved Heat 15 but he spoke to me and said Max has won Heat 13 and Bomber has won Heat 14, let’s go with them as he hadn’t been out since Heat 10 – but I did say if he’s scoring points like that, he will be rewarded with opportunities in Heat 15 in the weeks to come.”

The Lions continue a busy run of home matches on Monday when they host Ipswich in the second leg of their KO Cup tie – and that means the first appearance of Emil Sayfutdinov at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park.

LEICESTER 47: Justin Sedgmen 10+1, Max Fricke 9+2, Chris Harris 9+1, Nick Morris 7+1, Richard Lawson 6, Jake Allen 4+1, Dan Thompson 2.
PETERBOROUGH 42: Richie Worrall 14+1, Ben Cook 10+2, Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, Hans Andersen 5+1, Benjamin Basso 5+1, Jordan Jenkins 1+1, Nicki Pedersen r/r.

Photo credit: STEVE DIXON

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