LEICESTER face the most important weekend of their season as they enter the Championship play-offs at the semi-final stage.

The Watling JCB Lions travel to Edinburgh on Friday before hosting the return fixture against the Monarchs at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena the following evening (Saturday, 7pm).

And boss Stewart Dickson is urging his side to put Wednesday’s disappointment at Poole behind them with a rally cry to ensure they convert their position at the top of the Championship into qualification for the Grand Final.

Edinburgh are sure to provide tough opposition, and are clearly a significantly better team than when the Lions won 50-39 at Armadale back in mid-May.

In Sam Masters and Josh Pickering, the Monarchs have one of the most powerful spearheads in the Championship – but the Lions have several riders who are comfortable on the Scottish circuit, including Richie Worrall and Max Clegg, who both raced for Edinburgh in recent years.

Leicester know the importance of keeping the tie as close as possible as the Monarchs have a good record themselves at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena where they have always run the Lions close in their past visits.

Dickson said: “Edinburgh aren’t going to show us any sympathy at all, and I wouldn’t expect them to – it would be exactly the same with us if the shoe was on the other foot.

“They’re going to be looking to get as big a lead as they can, and for us the word is character – we need to go out there and show a bit of character over these next two meetings, otherwise our season is just going to fizzle out.

“I’m talking about us collectively in that, I’m not separating myself from the riders – it’s me and the seven riders. I’m not all of a sudden detaching myself because we had a bad meeting at Poole.

“I’m in it with them, and we all need to club together on Friday and Saturday and get ourselves to the Grand Final of the play-offs.

“It’s not a case of us deserving to be there because we finished top, the bottom line is we’ll only deserve to get there if we get the results over the next two meetings. That’s what the message will be.

“Good teams find a way to win, and the eight of us need to pull together and find a way to win to make that Final.”

EDINBURGH: Sam Masters, Lasse Fredriksen, Kye Thomson, Paco Castagna, Josh Pickering, James Sarjeant, Jacob Hook.

LEICESTER: Nick Morris, Connor Mountain, Richie Worrall, Dan Thompson, Kyle Howarth, Joe Thompson, Max Clegg.

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July 18, 2024 19.30

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