LEICESTER gained ground on fourth spot in the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership with a 53-37 win over defending champions Sheffield.

Despite over a month away from the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park, the Watling JCB Lions were able to make it convincing back-to-back home wins and moved a point closer to Oxford who lost a Super Heat at home to league leaders Ipswich.

The Lions looked set to open with a maximum but mechanical gremlins for Richard Lawson on the last turn allowed Sheffield skipper Kyle Howarth through for second with Max Fricke having already crossed the finish line.

They didn’t have to wait long for their first 5-1 though which was delivered by reserve duo Sam Hagon and Craig Cook who both outgated their counterparts.

The visitors moved back within two though with successive 4-2s. Sheffield made the most of bike issues for Luke Becker on the start line in Heat Three before a 5-1 to the Lions out of the gate in Heat Four had turned into an advantage to the Tigers by the end of the first lap.

There was further start line frustration for Becker in Heat Five who again failed to get off the grid, but the first shared race was won by Sam Masters who held off a constantly pressurising Josh Pickering.

The Fricke and Lawson pairing registered their second 4-2 of the night in Heat Six before Douglas and Cook followed suit to restore the Lions’ six point lead.

Lawson claimed his first victory of the night in the eighth before back-to-back 5-1s saw the Lions, seemingly, take control of the tie.

Becker picked up his first points of the night as he led a maximum over 2012 World Champion Chris Holder before Fricke produced a fine ride to pass Pickering to join Lawson out front to move the scores onto 37-23.

Sheffield did hit back with a 5-1 of their own just before the interval though and followed it up with a 4-2 with Holder winning Heat 12 as a tactical substitute.

That brought them back to within eight but when Fricke’s unbeaten night continued as he led a 4-2 in Heat 13, it put the Lions on the brink of another home win.

That was mathematically sealed in style in Heat 14 as Becker and Cook grabbed the fourth 5-1 of the contest before Fricke completed his paid maximum on a night where the hosts provided 11 of the race winners.

Team boss Stewart Dickson said: “We got the win and we had to win tonight.

“We kind of threw a couple of points away at the start of the meeting but I thought we did well to rally around.

“I came into the pits and had a wee look around after Heat Four and there was no balling and shouting, it was a case of the mechanics were working, everyone was helping each other trying to sort the problems that we had and we got into our stride.

“We got a comfortable win in the end; obviously Sheffield were missing Tai Woffinden and Jack Holder and that’s going to hurt any team, two top world class riders, but we can only race what’s put in front of us.

“I thought they did well for what they had to really keep at it and I’m not saying 16 points flattered us but we took it away from them right at the end with two 4-2s and a 5-1.”

The Lions are next in action after the Speedway of Nations break on Monday, July 15 (7.30pm) at King’s Lynn before hosting Ipswich on Thursday, July 18 (7.30pm).

LEICESTER 53: Max Fricke 14+1, Sam Masters 10+1, Richard Lawson 8, Ryan Douglas 7, Luke Becker 6, Craig Cook 5+2, Sam Hagon 3.
SHEFFIELD 37: Chris Holder 13+1, Troy Batchelor 8+1, Josh Pickering 7, Kyle Howarth 6, Dan Gilkes 3+1, Jason Edwards 0, Jack Holder R/R.

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