LEICESTER safely booked their place in the Championship KO Cup semi-finals by drawing 45-45 in the second leg at Scunthorpe on Friday.

The Watling JCB Lions have now set up a mouth-watering last-four tie with Poole – and the first leg of that semi has already been arranged for next Saturday (September 10) at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

Leading by 26 points from the first leg, the Lions were always strong favourites to make it through, but had to be mindful of some impressive recent home form from the Scorpions.

But a super-efficient overall performance saw them progress with few alarms, as they quickly hit back from conceding a 5-1 in Heat 2 at the hands of Anders Rowe and Adam Roynon.

Max Clegg ran a third in that race but quickly recovered to partner skipper Kyle Howarth to a 5-1 over Rowe and Simon Lambert in Heat 4, whilst Nick Morris won his opening two rides, the second seeing him pass Jake Allen for the win in Heat 5.

The Scorpions were making little progress despite the excellence of former Lions rider Ryan Douglas at No.1, and it was the visitors who went ahead on the night in Heat 8 when Clegg and Richie Worrall were awarded a 5-1 after home skipper Simon Lambert had come to grief.

The hosts levelled in Heat 11 with a win for Roynon as Morris found himself unusually at the back, but Leicester hit straight back in Heat 12 with Worrall charging round James Wright for the win, whilst Clegg supplied third place.

By this stage, the Lions’ overall progression was already very much in the bag, and they could have gone six-up on the night but for a sensational ride by Douglas to get the better of Howarth and Morris in Heat 13.

Leicester remained in front on the night in a shared Heat 14 as Connor Mountain recorded his fifth second place of the meeting.

But a draw in the second leg did seem an appropriate result, as the Scorpions took a 4-2 in Heat 15 with Douglas heading Howarth for his fifth win out of six, whilst Wright held on for third place after a battle with Mountain.

Leicester boss Stewart Dickson said: “It was a professional job well done, and I’m pleased with the performance.

“The only real blip came when we conceded a 5-1 in Heat 2 and at that point I was thinking, ‘here we go,’ but we recovered from that quickly and I’m content with 45-45 on the night.

“I could have used Nick or Richie in Heat 15 but to be fair Connor had gone really well and he deserved the extra ride.

“I’m pleased we didn’t lose the meeting, but I’m also pleased for Scunthorpe that they never lost in their last one of the season, if that makes sense!

“We’ve got the job done and now we can look forward to Poole, which should be an absolute humdinger next Saturday.”

SCUNTHORPE 45: Ryan Douglas 17, Jake Allen 11, James Wright 5+2, Adam Roynon 5+1, Anders Rowe 5, Simon Lambert 2+1, Tero Aarnio r/r
LEICESTER 45: Kyle Howarth 12, Connor Mountain 10, Richie Worrall 8+4, Max Clegg 8+2, Nick Morris 7+1, Joe Thompson 0, Dan Thompson r/r
Leicester win 103-77 on aggregate

*A REMINDER that the Lion Cubs race face Kent in the National Development League at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday (7pm), needing a win by more than six points to officially confirm their play-off place.

Photo Credit: IAN RISPIN

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