Witches have it all to do after Premiership first leg clash with Robins
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 41 Swindon Robins 49
Ipswich Witches have a mountain to climb if they are to lift the Premiership crown this year.
Hot favourites Swindon Robins proved too strong for the Suffolk side last night in front of a large Foxhall crowd, running out eight-point winners, 41-49.
It's only half-time, the second leg is at Swindon on Thursday night, but it's going to take some comeback by Ritchie Hawkins' team to wrestle the trophy from the Robins.
The visitors were simply too strong at the top end, their potent top five putting the Witches to the sword. The visitors won 11 of the 15 heats and although the score was tight throughout, the Robins pulled away for victory in the last few heats.
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It was 30-all after heat 10 but the lack of heat winners eventually undone the home side.
Ipswich never gave up and they will go to Swindon with hopes still high. But they are going to have to make better starts at Blundsdon on Thursday night.
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Jason Doyle hit the deck in a dramatic start to heat one as the Witches both made great starts and were skating away to a maximum. In the re-run Adam Ellis, who had made a poor start in the first running of the heat, made no mistake.
Jake Allen flew round the outside of Ellis Perks to win heat two and while Chris Harris made great efforts to pass the fast-starting Tobiasz Musielak in the next, the Swindon man held on for victory.
It had been a tense and even start and Swindon had settled down well after Doyle's first heat crash, Troy Batchelor winning heat four.
Harris made a good start in the next but Doyle flew underneath the Witches man going into turn three. Ellis passed Richard Lawson, before dicing with Harris and hurtling into the fence. Ellis was excluded.
Doyle was the next to crash in a tough first turn alongside Lawson. It was all three back with Doyle back on his feet and the former world champion shot from the outside gate as the Robins continued to produce the heat winners.
But the Witches got their fans on their feet in the next. Iversen gated across Batchelor and Cameron Heeps flew round the outside to join his partner at the front.
It was 20-16 to the Witches and the run of drawn heats had been broken.
However, the Witches lead did not last long despite Danny King gating well, he was passed by Musielak down the back straight and the Robins jetted to a 5-1 of their own.
Ellis won the next and the visitors had produced six of the first eight heat winners!
The Witches got their noses in front with Harris holding off Batchelor's attentions, with Lawson away. Musielak was down under challenge from Heeps on turn three in the next, with the young Aussie excluded.
It was a chance for the visitors and they took it, Musielak nipping up the inside of Iversen for a visitors' 5-1. It was 30-all and the Robins took the lead in the next, Ellis and Allen dicing for second place, before the Robins' man came through.
Perks and Harris had a real ding-dong for third in the next with Perks winning out and the Robins were closing in.
And when Jensen won heat 14, with the impressive Perks third, Swindon had their victory.
1 Ellis, Heeps, Iversen, Doyle (f/x) 56.6 3-3
2 Allen, Perks, Vissing, Sarjeant 57.6 6-6
3 Musielak, Harris, Lawson, Jensen 57.1 9-9
4 Batchelor, King, Allen, Vissing 57.0 12-12
5 Doyle, Harris, Lawson, Ellis (f/x) 57;8 15-15
6 Heeps, Iversen, Batchelor, Perks 57;5 20-16
7 Jensen, Musielak, King, Sarjeant 57.0 21-21
8 Ellis, Allen, Heeps, Vissing 57.0 24-24
9 Lawson, Harris, Perks, Batchelor 58.0 29-25
10 Musielak, Jensen, Iversen, Heeps (f/x) 58.0 30-30
11 Doyle, Ellis, Allen, King 57.6 31-35
12 Musielak, Allen, Perks, Harris 57.7 33-39
13 Iversen, Doyle, King, Batchelor 57.6 37-41
14 Jensen, Lawson, Perks, Sarjeant 57.9 39-45
15 Doyle, Iversen, Musielak, Lawson 57.8 41-49
Ipswich: N Iversen 9+2, C Heeps 6+1, C Harris 6+1, R Lawson 7+2, D King 4, J Sarjeant 0, J Allen 9+1
Swindon: J Doyle 11, A Ellis 8+1, T Musielak 12+1, R Jensen 8+1, T Batchelor 4, E Perks 5, C Vissing 1+1