LEICESTER slipped to a 47-43 home defeat at the hands of Ipswich on Thursday with the Witches taking over at the top of the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership.

The Foxhall club once again took the honours at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park on a night when the Watling JCB Lions found themselves playing catch-up and couldn’t quite finish the job.

Although skipper Max Fricke put in another brilliant display with paid-17 from six rides and Richard Lawson dropped just one point from four outings, it wasn’t the solid Leicester performance of recent weeks.

Sam Masters, maximum man against Birmingham last time out, endured a night to forget, and the Lions were well outscored at reserve with Keynan Rew making the match-turning contribution for the Witches.

It did start well for the Lions with a 5-1 in Heat 1 from Fricke and Lawson over Dan Thompson after Ipswich No.1 Emil Sayfutdinov came to grief on turn three.

But the visitors then seized control with back-to-back maximums of their own as Jenkins teamed up with Rew in Heat 2 and then Thompson followed Jason Doyle home in Heat 3 ahead of Masters and Luke Becker.

The Lions then conceded 4-2s in the next two races as they found themselves eight points down, but Lawson and Fricke got them back in the match with a 5-1 in Heat 6.

That left Ipswich with a four-point lead and the next five races were all shared with Ryan Douglas defeating Doyle in Heat 7 and Sayfutdinov in Heat 11, whilst Lawson and Becker also registered race wins for Leicester.

But hopes of a 4-2 in Heat 9 were ended when Rew got past Masters, and there was a similar outcome in a damaging Heat 12 which resulted in an Ipswich 5-1 with Doyle out front to extend the margin back to eight points.

Douglas and Ellis walked away from a heavy crash in the first running of Heat 13 with the re-run seeing the Lions claw two points back as Sayfutdinov split Fricke and Douglas.

Manager Stewart Dickson then brought Fricke into Heat 14 as a tactical substitute, and the move produced another 4-2 with Rew hanging on for second place ahead of Becker.

That meant the Lions needed a 5-1 from Heat 15 to draw the match and set up a Super Heat but although Fricke again rode superbly to defeat Sayfutdinov and Doyle, the Witches’ top two held off Douglas who fell late in the race, to secure the away win.

Fricke said: “We always know when Ipswich come to town that it’s going to be a tough one, and we pulled a few points back towards the end but not quite enough.

“The track was little patchy early on, and after a couple of heats they tried to smooth it out a bit and make it more consistent, but overall it was just a bit of a tough night for everyone.

“I think everyone got caught out a bit early on. Later on in the meeting it came to us a bit, but we just need to try and get everyone scoring a bit more consistently.”

Lions have the opportunity to bounce back when they hit the road next week, starting at Oxford on Bank Holiday Monday (7.30pm start) and they then visit King’s Lynn next Thursday (May 9).

LEICESTER 43: Max Fricke 15+2, Richard Lawson 10+1, Ryan Douglas 9, Luke Becker 6, Sam Masters 2, Drew Kemp 1, Joe Thompson 0.
IPSWICH 47: Jason Doyle 15+1, Keynan Rew 11+2, Adam Ellis 7+1, Emil Sayfutdinov 7, Dan Thompson 4+2, Jordan Jenkins 3+2, Danny King r/r.

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Leicester Lions V Ipswich Witches
July 18, 2024 19.30

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