LEICESTER blasted back to form with a hugely impressive 53-36 win at Edinburgh to take control of their play-off semi-final.

The Watling JCB Lions will now look to finish the job and book a place in the Grand Final when the sides meet again at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday (7pm).

As a response to Wednesday’s disappointing KO Cup exit at Poole it was exactly what the Lions wanted as they dominated the first leg at Armadale, incredibly limiting the home side to just three race wins despite the strength of their top two.

The Lions’ own big guns were in top form with Nick Morris, Richie Worrall and skipper Kyle Howarth each winning three races, whilst Connor Mountain and Max Clegg also chipped in with significant contributions.

Morris and Mountain stunned the Monarchs with an opening race maximum as Mountain took advantage of a rare error on the third bend by Sam Masters, and it was a lead the visitors never lost.

Edinburgh clawed two points back with a 4-2 in Heat 4 as Jacob Hook got the better of Clegg in a tight scrap for third place, but the Morris/Mountain combination slammed in another 5-1 in the next to put Leicester six points up.

They led 25-17 after Heat 7 with Richie Worrall beating Josh Pickering whilst Dan Thompson added third place whilst Heat 8 turned into catastrophe for the Monarchs as first Lasse Fredriksen and then Hook came to grief with both being disqualified, leaving Mountain and Clegg to race to an unchallenged 5-0.

That put the lead up to 13 points and the Lions weren’t about to ease off, as they added a 4-2 in Heat 11 with Morris and Mountain this time split by a hard-charging Pickering, whilst Worrall and Clegg extended the advantage further, split by Kye Thomson, in Heat 12.

Edinburgh rallied in Heat 13 through Pickering and Masters with their only 5-1 of the night, whilst Heat 14 was shared with Clegg out-front for the Lions.

Another 5-1 from the Monarchs top two in Heat 15 would have cut the gap back to single figures but in fact the race went spectacularly in favour of the Lions as Howarth and Worrall upstaged the home side’s top two with Howarth leading from the start and Worrall superbly coming through on the inside of Masters to complete the 5-1, and leave Leicester a massive 17 points to the good.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “It was certainly a better performance than Wednesday, that’s for sure – we were looking for a reaction to that.

“I don’t think Edinburgh raced to what they’re capable of, because they had a fantastic result last Friday (against Redcar) and I think we caught them on a bad night.

“But obviously from a Lions perspective we’ve got a lead heading into Saturday night, and now we’ve got to finish the job off.

“There will be no complacency, but we are pleased with the result, no doubt about that.”

The teams are unchanged for Saturday’s second leg, and supporters should note that season tickets will be valid for this meeting.

The club will also be staging their annual Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund collection and fans are urged to support the cause as generously as their circumstances allow.

EDINBURGH 36: Josh Pickering 10, Sam Masters 9+1, Kye Thomson 6+1, Paco Castagna 4+2, James Sarjeant 4, Jacob Hook 2+1, Lasse Fredriksen 1+1
LEICESTER 53: Richie Worrall 13+1, Kyle Howarth 12, Max Clegg 9+1, Nick Morris 9, Connor Mountain 8+2, Dan Thompson 2+1, Joe Thompson 0

Photo Credit: JACK CUPIDO

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