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Bandits face 18-point pull back in shield semi

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Leicester Lions 54
Berwick "Mike Hope of Wooler Ltd." (Powered by Clear Energy Consulting) 36
SGB Championship Shield Semi Final First Leg

The Berwick Bandits had a distinct plan of action yesterday afternoon at the Leicester Lions; to keep the scores close with the Shield Semi Final deciding leg coming up at Shielfield Park next Saturday night.

Early on the Bandits took the Midland crowd by surprise and led after two heats by 4-8, Aaron Summers soaring away in the opening race to take a win over seven times British Champion, Scott Nicholls, and young Berwick-born teenager Leon Flint doing likewise in Heat Two keeping Connor Mountain at bay after he had passed Coty Garcia on the second lap.

Ryan Douglas and Josh Bates made the faster gates and left Kevin Doolan and Dany Gappmaier in their dust for an easy home 5-1, levelling the scores at 9-9, while Richie Worrall and Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen had a huge battle on the opening lap of Heat Four with the Lion pulling ahead to win with Mountain following Busk Jakobsen in for a point which put Leicester into a two point lead.

Summers found himself in third off the Heat Five gate, but led the race by the time he hit the back straight, passing both Bates and his team mate Etheridge who ended in third for a Bandits' 2-4 levelling the scores again 15-all, until Perks took the early Heat Six lead as Nicholls flew from last to second although greatly assisted in this achievement with Busk Jakobsen's bike grinding to a frustrating halt to hit a home maximum and push Leicester into a 20-16 lead.

27-21 down after Heat Eight, and the Bandits were still breathing down the Lions' exhaust pipes, however Heat Nine and 10 provided the home side with two more 5-1s with Doolan losing second to Nicholls on the opening lap of the 10th to dramatically change the complexion of the scores, now sitting at 40-26.

Making up for his skip in the 10th, come Heat 12 Doolan made full amends by taking the three points, although initially it was Garcia who looked like taking the win until he locked up badly on the second bend sending him spiralling to the back in a shared 3-3, but Berwick were still adrift by a worrying 14 points.

Nicholls took Heat 13 despite a good chase from Summers in a 4-2, while Douglas went on to win Heat 14 from a solid gate over Garcia and Jack Thomas who held Flint at the rear meaning with one heat to go Leicester led 51-33, and good news for Berwick saw Summers make the best gate of his night's work to lead comfortably over Worrall and Nicholls who had no chance in catching him having both passed Doolan on the third lap.

Than 3-3 held the first leg gap at 18 points, not the preferred gap for Berwick as their team manager Gary Flint said: "We looked to have these Lions well and truly under control right up to the end of Heat Eight when we seemed to lose grip to a degree and slowed at the gate, and as gating was a vital part of success tonight, that meant trouble. Nikolaj's engine issues didn't help after a spirited opening ride, but 18 points it is, and I don't think that's unbeatable for us at home net week.

"Back on Berwick shale next week, these guys of ours will be fired up for a battle of mammoth proportions and as they wont be accepting anything less than a Shield Final, Lions beware, we're on a full scale hunt!"

Individual Riders' Score Chart:

Leicester Lions 54

1 Scott Nicholls (c) 2,2*,2*,3,1* = 10+3
2 Ellis Perks 0,3,1*,3 = 7+1
3 Josh Bates 2*,2,3,2 = 9+1
4 Ryan Douglas 3,0,2*,3 = 8+1
5 Richie Worrall 3,3,3,1,2 = 12
6 Jack Thomas (r) 0,1,0,1 = 2
7 Connor Mountain (r) 2,1,2,1* = 6+1

Berwick "Mike Hope of Wooler Ltd." Bandits (Powered by Clear Energy Consulting) 36

1 Aaron Summers 3,3,2,2,3 = 13
2 Jye Etheridge 1,1,3,1* = 6+1
3 Kevin Doolan (c) 1,2,1,3,0 = 7
4 Dany Gappmaier 0,0,0,N = 0
5 Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 2,R,1,0 = 3
6 Coty Garcia (r) 1,1,0,0,2 = 4
7 Leon Flint (r) 3,0,0,0 = 3