The Ipswich ‘Tru7 Group’ Witches were defeated for the first time in 2024, suffering a heavy 55-35 loss at Belle Vue last night in the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership.

The visitors were without injured captain Danny King and Jason Doyle, who had his flight delayed, with Ryan Douglas and Charles Wright guesting in their place.

The Suffolk side held a 12-point lead for the aggregate bonus point after a 51-39 win at Foxhall in March, but they went home pointless after the home team dominated the contest throughout. Guest Douglas top scored with 11+1.

Team manager Ritchie Hawkins said: “It was a tough night at the office, the first one of the year. Everything has gone so well so far so we certainly do not need to dwell on tonight.

"It was a very tough night, similar to recent visits to Belle Vue where we have just not been quick enough. We were missing a couple of riders and Dougy did a great job replacing Danny. Doyley was a massive loss and maybe he would have given us a shout for the bonus point but, overall, I don’t think it made a massive difference to the result.

“If we knew what we need to do there, we would have put it right by now and we are constantly working on it as we will be on every visit there this year. We need to improve around here, and it will be something we will be working on.

“Dan (Thompson) was our star rider. It was another superb performance, carrying on his great run. To do it around Belle Vue shows a lot about him. His starting was brilliant, he is getting quicker and the more he keeps trapping like that and getting on the pace with the top boys like he was tonight, mixing it with the likes of Dan Bewley, it will only bring him on further.”

Ipswich stay top of the table, while Belle Vue move second after collecting two league points and the aggregate bonus point.

The Witches now host the Sheffield Tigers at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday.

BELLE VUE 55: Brady Kurtz © 12 (Maximum), Norick Blödorn 5, Jaimon Lidsey 10, Ben Cook 8+1, Dan Bewley 12+2, Connor Mountain 6+1, Connor Bailey (RS) 2+1. Team Manager: Mark Lemon

IPSWICH 35: Emil Sayfutdinov © 7, Jordan Jenkins 1+1, Adam Ellis 3+1, Ryan Douglas (G) 11+1, Charles Wright (G) 3+1, Keynan Rew 1, Dan Thompson (RS) 9. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins

Referee: S. Perkin