Brilliant Witches grab last-heat 5-1
SCOTT Nicholls admits the pressure is off Ipswich Witches after securing sixth spot with a meeting to spare.Nicholls and Troy Batchelor claimed the last race 5-1 over home teenagers Lewis Bridger and Simon Gustafsson which clinched a 45-45 draw at Eastbourne on Saturday.
SCOTT Nicholls admits the pressure is off Ipswich Witches after securing sixth spot with a meeting to spare.
Nicholls and Troy Batchelor claimed the last race 5-1 over home teenagers Lewis Bridger and Simon Gustafsson which clinched a 45-45 draw at Eastbourne on Saturday.
The result means Witches will finish just above their Sussex rivals in the Elite League standings, whatever the result of the trip to relegation-threatened Belle Vue a week tonight.
Nicholls, who passed home reserve Ricky Kling for a key 4-2 in heat 14, admitted: “It hasn't been the best year for Ipswich, myself included, and we're obviously disappointed to miss the play-offs.
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“The next best thing was to secure sixth place.
“We now go to Belle Vue with no pressure on us.
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“It seems strange to be saying pressure for sixth place but every place is important for a bit of pride.”
Improving Witches trailed 31-23 after heat nine and were still 42-36 adrift going into the final two races as Kling enjoyed his best meeting of the season.
The Swede beat both Nicholls and impressive Troy Batchelor in heat seven and was thrown in for off-colour home skipper Davey Watt against the same star duo in the penultimate race.
Witches were on a 5-1 when Cameron Woodward tumbled but Kling then got out in front in the re-run and led until the end of the third lap.
Nicholls added: “In the race he beat me I couldn't do a lot about it so I settled for second place.
“When he got around the outside in heat 14 I left him room, being fair.
“I knew I had to push in that one because every point was crucial.”
Gustafsson looked to have got out in front in the nominated race but Nicholls and Batchelor swept past him on either side in a stunning move coming off bend two first time around.
They then resisted a valiant attempt by Bridger to break up the 5-1.
In the absence of Tobi Kroner, Witches' top four shared nine heat wins and just two lasts between them.
One of those scoreless rides came after ex-Eagles star Nicholls broke the tapes in his first outing and went off a 15-metre handicap in the re-run.
Team manager Pete Simmons believes his side have hit pre-season targets.
Simmons said: “We felt we could reach the play-offs and sixth place would have done that until the authorities decided to move the goalposts.”
Eastbourne: Davey Watt 1 (3), Simon Gustafsson 9 (5), Lewis Bridger 8+1 (5), Cameron Woodward 6 (4), Lukas Dryml 5 (4), Ricky Kling 10+3 (5), Ales Dryml 6+1 (4)
Witches: Robert Miskowiak 7 (4), Tobi Kroner rider replacement (4+1 (4)), Troy Batchelor 15+2 (6), Scott Nicholls 10+1 (5), Danny King 8 (4), Dawid Stachyra 3+1 (6), Carl Wilkinson 2 (5).
Referee: Chris Gay
Track conditions: Excellent