LEICESTER’S KO Cup hopes were ended with a heavy 60-30 defeat in the second leg of their semi-final at Poole on Wednesday.

It was a meeting which almost exactly mirrored the clash between the clubs at the same stage of the competition last season, with the Watling JCB Lions firmly in the contest at the halfway mark only to be swept aside by a run of Pirates 5-1s.

After Heat 7 the home side led 22-20 on the night with the aggregate scores level at 66-66, and the semi-final appeared all to race for.

But in the remaining eight races, the Pirates carded a remarkable total of seven 5-1s with the only exception being a share of the spoils in Heat 12.

Lions provided two of the opening three race wins from Max Clegg and Richie Worrall as they recovered well from conceding a 5-1 in the opening race.

And when Nick Morris and Connor Mountain, who had been on the receiving end on that occasion, combined for maximum points over Steve Worrall in Heat 5, the Lions led 16-14 on the night with their aggregate lead doubled to four.

But Poole edged level in the tie with consecutive 4-2s in Heats 6 and 7 with Ben Cook one of their key men as he defeated Lions skipper Kyle Howarth on his way to a five-ride paid maximum.

Cook and brother Zach both overcame Clegg in Heat 8 as the Pirates began to stretch clear, and Steve Worrall joined Drew Kemp for maximum points over Howarth in Heat 9 – quickly backed up by Danny King and Ben Cook over Richie Worrall in the next.

The tie was quickly slipping away from the Lions, and the Pirates weren’t about to loosen their grip as Zach Cook took the outside line in Heat 11 to get the better of Mountain and Morris for a 5-1.

Steve Worrall’s win in Heat 12 made the home side’s progression to the Final against Redcar mathematically certain, but they piled on the agony for the Lions with a further display of fast gating for another hat-trick of maximums in the last three races,

And they reached the 60-point mark thanks to Ben Cook and their other paid maximum man Richard Lawson in the last.

Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “It was a very disappointing night. We started pretty well but then it was basically the same as last year, and we just collapsed again.

“I’ve told the riders I’m bitterly disappointed, but the conversation other than that remains between me and them, and obviously they’re disappointed too.

“I’m not going to dress it up, we weren’t good enough and we’re all hurting, myself included. But it’s one big defeat, which we haven’t had since way back at the start of the season.

“Credit to Poole, congratulations to them, but from a Leicester perspective we’re very disappointed to be out of the Cup at the semi-final stage.

“We can’t dwell on it too much because we have big meetings coming up, and we need to re-group quickly – if we start feeling sorry for ourselves, Edinburgh will just come firing bullets into us again on Friday night.”

POOLE 60: Richard Lawson 14+1, Zach Cook 12, Ben Cook 11+4, Danny King 9+1, Drew Kemp 7+1, Steve Worrall 6+1, Nathan Ablitt 1+1.
LEICESTER 30: Richie Worrall 9, Max Clegg 6+2, Nick Morris 5, Kyle Howarth 5, Connor Mountain 4+1, Dan Thompson 1, Joe Thompson 0.
Poole win 104-76 on aggregate.

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July 18, 2024 19.30

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