LEICESTER head into the most crucial phase of their season starting with Saturday’s KO Cup semi-final first leg against Poole at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena (7pm).

The Watling JCB Lions are in the hunt for team honours on all three fronts, which is also the case for the Pirates who knocked them out of two major competitions last year.

A place in the KO Cup Final against Redcar awaits the winners of the tie over two legs, with matters set to be decided at Wimborne Road on Wednesday (September 21).

So the first job for Stewart Dickson’s side is to look for a lead at home on Saturday, having secured the double over the Pirates when they met earlier in the season in the Championship.

A tense contest at Beaumont Park saw the Lions win 48-42 on Easter Saturday with a 5-1 in Heat 15 after a crash between Pirates skipper Danny King and Richie Worrall from which King was disqualified.

And then in early June, the Lions smashed the Pirates’ long-standing unbeaten home run with a brilliant 47-43 victory in Dorset.

But the strength of the visitors is well-known with a power-packed top three of King, Steve Worrall and Richard Lawson, whilst former British Under-19 Champion Drew Kemp was a key figure in their April visit.

Both teams track their full one-to-sevens, and Dickson has elected to maintain the riding order which he used in the Lions’ last home match way back on August 6.

That means Dan Thompson lining up at No.2 to partner Nick Morris, with Connor Mountain joining Richie Worrall in the middle-order, and skipper Kyle Howarth goes at No.5.

Dickson said: “It feels like ages since we’ve last raced at home, but thankfully all the boys have been racing elsewhere and we have a full team for Saturday.

“This should be an absolute humdinger of a tie, and of course we also know we’re going to be meeting Poole again in at least one other competition. They’re a strong team once more, and they did a job on us at the end of last season.

“We are confident around our home track and have had strong results there, but this is the time at which we need to make every point count, and that’s what we’ll all be focused on doing.”

Lions can also confirm that subject to completion of the play-off quarter-finals, it is their intention to stage the home leg of the semi on Saturday September 24, with opposition to be confirmed.

Season tickets are not valid this Saturday, but will be honoured for the home leg of the play-off semi as holders are due an extra meeting following the mid-season closure of Newcastle.

LEICESTER: Nick Morris, Dan Thompson, Richie Worrall, Connor Mountain, Kyle Howarth, Joe Thompson, Max Clegg.
POOLE: Danny King, Ben Cook, Steve Worrall, Drew Kemp, Richard Lawson, Zach Cook, Nathan Ablitt.

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July 18, 2024 19.30

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