Saturday April 02, 2022
LEICESTER continued their powerful start to the season with a resounding 62-28 win over Scunthorpe in their Championship opener at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

The Watling JCB Lions were almost as dominant as in last week’s KO Cup win over Birmingham, and also provided plenty of exciting racing for the crowd on a cold night.

Former Lions favourite Ryan Douglas did have the satisfaction of ending the maximum aspirations of the home heat-leaders, but the Australian’s 14 points from six rides accounted for half of his team’s total on his own.

He was involved in one of the races of the night in Heat 13 when Lions duo Nick Morris and Richie Worrall were both unbeaten, and Douglas looked set to defeat both only for Worrall to pounce off the final bend and snatch victory on the line.

Douglas did gain some revenge by winning Heat 15, ending Worrall’s run of nine successive race victories at Beaumont Park.

Earlier, Lions had raced into an early ten-point lead courtesy of 5-1s in Heats 2 and 4, both involving in-form reserve Joe Thompson, whilst the Scorpions’ Jake Allen was disqualified from the latter after clashing with Thompson.

Heat 8 provided a major highlight as the visitors’ other ex-Leicester man Zaine Kennedy led for almost the entire distance under big pressure from Thompson and Connor Mountain – but as he went wide off the last bend, the home pair shot through for a 5-1 to the delight of the crowd.

Scunthorpe brought Douglas into Heat 9 for a tactical substitute ride and he made the gate along with team-mate Allen, but Lions skipper Kyle Howarth rode a superb second bend to hit the front.

The Scorpions hit more trouble in Heat 10 when Tero Aarnio fell after Morris had surged through on the inside, and thereafter it was a matter of whether the home side could hit the 60-point mark again.

The latter stages included a confidence-boosting race win for Dan Thompson in Heat 14 as he lined up and neatly passed Kennedy, whilst brother Joe secured a deserved nomination for Heat 15 and picked up a point, again at Kennedy’s expense.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “I expected a slightly tougher test so I don’t know if Scunthorpe had a poor night, but I do think we’re pretty strong at home.

“When you look through the scores, it was good to see Anders Rowe have a better meeting, and Joe Thompson was very good again, and I think it was a fair call to go with the two unbeaten riders for Heat 15.

“Unfortunately they didn’t get their maximums, but Ryan does tend to get better when the track slickens off and he won the race – but all in all I don’t think that was too important to us.

“It’s pleasing all round with such solid scoring, but without being disrespectful to Scunthorpe we know there are tougher tests coming.

“The track was a bit different because we had to pack it in case we got any snow showers, and it was a cold night as well, but it’s a good start to score 62 and get three league points on the board.”

Lions are back in action on Wednesday when they make the short trip to Birmingham to complete the job of KO Cup progression, and their league campaign continues at home to Newcastle next Saturday.

LEICESTER 62: Richie Worrall 14, Joe Thompson 11+3, Kyle Howarth 11, Nick Morris 10, Connor Mountain 7+3, Anders Rowe 5+1, Dan Thompson 4+1.
SCUNTHORPE 28: Ryan Douglas 14, Zaine Kennedy 5, Tero Aarnio 4, Jordan Palin 2+1, Jake Allen 2+1, Ryan Kinsley 1, Simon Lambert 0.

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