Friday July 22, 2022
LEICESTER were edged out 46-44 at Scunthorpe on Friday – but still took what could be a priceless Championship Jubilee League point from the meeting.

Former Watling JCB Lions duo Ryan Douglas and Zaine Kennedy did the bulk of the damage for the Scorpions, but the Lions fought hard from ten points down at the halfway stage to salvage some reward.

It means progression to the Final is now out of their hands but can still be achieved with solid home victories over Redcar and Scunthorpe – as long as the Bears and the Scorpions also win their respective home matches against each other with no away points gleaned.

The Lions called in Richard Lawson as a late-notice guest with No.1 Nick Morris ruled out due to illness, and Lawson will again stand in at Sunday’s crunch league clash with Berwick at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

The Poole heat-leader defeated Douglas in Heat 1 before the Scorpions man reeled off four straight wins prior to being beaten by Richie Worrall in Heat 15.

Leicester’s top three all hit double figures and there was an encouraging finish to the meeting for recent signing Max Clegg who played a big part in the comeback in Heats 12 and 14.

Kennedy was the key man for the visitors in the early stages, winning Heat 2 and lowering the colours of Howarth in Heat 4 with the Lions skipper initially delayed by opposing captain Simon Lambert.

Connor Mountain snatched third place on the line from Kasper Andersen in Heat 5 as the Lions got back to within two points, but Scunthorpe responded with back-to-back 4-2s and then a 5-1 in Heat 8 as Lambert won and Kennedy forcefully defended second place from Mountain off the last bend.

Boss Stewart Dickson brought Lawson into Heat 9 for a tactical substitute ride but the move was only partially successful as although Howarth took the win, Kennedy prevented a 5-1 and the gap was only cut to eight points.

A potential route back in was blocked by Douglas slicing between Worrall and Dan Thompson in Heat 10, but a fine Heat 12 saw Worrall get to the front over the faster-gating Scorpions pair, before Clegg overcame Kasper Andersen for third and then took advantage of a big error by Kennedy off turn four for a Lions 5-1.

The gap was suddenly down to four points, which remained the case in a cracking Heat 13 with Douglas re-passing Howarth for the win but Lawson salvaging third place from the over-worked Kennedy.

The Scorpions reserve was called upon to take three rides on the trot and there was drama in Heat 14 when the home side were holding a match-winning 4-2 even though Clegg had got the better of James Wright, before Kennedy punctured off the final bend enabling Clegg to pass on the inside.

That meant a 5-1 in Heat 15 would see the Lions draw the meeting, and with Worrall flying from the outside gate it briefly looked on as Howarth charged inside Douglas – but the Scunthorpe man repaid the compliment and held on for second to see his side over the line.

Dickson said: “We’re digging in there. We’re not quite at the same level as we have been in the months of May and June, and we won’t be kidded on about that, but we’re working hard and we managed to pull ourselves back in.

“We got a bit of luck in Heat 14 but you take the breaks when they come along, Max was definitely getting a second place, and the idea there was always to try and take away a point.

“Considering it wasn’t our best performance we’ve got to be happy with that, and it was a good, hard-fought match. Hopefully now if we win our two home matches it will be enough to get us into the Final.

“We know we’re not quite at it, one or two boys are not in the form they were in a couple of months ago, but it was a gusty performance from Max after he struggled last week. He got his just rewards, and I’m well pleased for him.”

SCUNTHORPE 46: Ryan Douglas 16, Zaine Kennedy 12+1, James Wright 9+1, Simon Lambert 6+1, Adam Roynon 2, Kasper Andersen 1, Jake Allen r/r
LEICESTER 44: Richie Worrall 11+1, Richard Lawson 10+1, Kyle Howarth 10, Max Clegg 7+1, Connor Mountain 3+1, Dan Thompson 3+1, Joe Thompson 0
Championship Jubilee League points: Scunthorpe 3 Leicester 1

Photo Credit: IAN RISPIN

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