'We're not far off'... .Ipswich Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins' reaction to Swindon defeat
PUBLISHED: 21:35 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 21:35 22 April 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Swindon Robins 51 Ipswich Witches 39
Ipswich Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins says his team are 'not far off' after the Suffolk side went down 51-39 at Swindon tonight in a Supporters' Trophy clash
Swindon are another strong side, especially at home. And while the Witches never led at any time, they never threw the towel in either, taking it to a last-heat decider for the bonus point.
There were fine performances from both reserves again, Cameron Heeps and Jake Allen, while Chris Harris returned to the team to top score.
“Yes, we've lost by 12, but most of our riders missed out on a couple of points out there,” Hawkins said.
“Swindon are a good side and will be a bit test for us on Thursday, but we are not far off.
“They haven't smashed us tonight and we made some mistakes that cost us points. Our reserves were superb again and we will have learned much from this meeting, as we come here twice more in the league.
“As a new club to the Premiership, we are still very much underdogs, especially away from home. But I'm really encouraged.”
Robins No.1 Jason Doyle smashed the track record in heat one as the home side got off to a perfect start with a 5-1 maximum.
However, the Witches hit straight back, with Heeps and Allen again impressing as they streaked from the start. Krystian Pieszczek went through the tapes in heat three, with Heeps in to replace the Ipswich rider. The maximum scores kept coming, this time Swindon's Adam Ellis and Tobiasz Musielak flying to victory.
Allen passed Zach Wajtknecht in the next, but with Danny King at the back, it was the home side who had sneaked into a six-point lead.
Harris was quickest away to win heat five, as Musielak passed David Bellego, the Witch a former Swindon rider.
Gate four was proving a graveyard and even Doyle couldn't get off it in heat six as Heeps gated, Doyle passing King and his partner Dawid Lampert, but Heeps held on superbly.
Troy Batchelor won the next and Bellego's third last place on the bounce ensured Swindon stretched their lead.
Musielak started 15m back in heat nine and King, who had started with two last places, came to the party with a win. Heeps looked to have third but Musielak caught him on the last lap.
Swindon eased into a 10-pt lead after 10 heats.
Heat 11 was a cracker! Both Witches sped past James Shanes before Harris set after Batchelor and in thrilling fashion passed the Aussie on lap two. The Witches looked to be in with a real shout of a grandstand finish as King and Richard Lawson gated.
But Doyle and Ellis passed both Witches. However, the Witches weren't done and Pieszczek and Harris hit straight back with a maximum of their own. Harris won heat 14, but with Heeps at the back, the meeting was all over for the away side.
On Thursday, the Witches race the Robins in the return clash at Foxhall Heath.
Swindon: J Doyle 12, D Lampert 12+3, T Batchelor 10+1, A Ellis 8+2, T Musielak 8+2, Z Wajtknecht 2, J Shanes 1.
Ipswich: C Harris 12+1, D Bellego 0, D King 4, K Pieszczek 7+1, R Lawson 2, C Heeps 7, J Allen 7+1
1 Doyle, Lampart, Harris, Bellego 61.8 5-1
2 Heeps, Allen, Wajtknecht, Shanes (r) 64.0 6-6
3 Musielak, Ellis, Heeps, Lawson, Pieszczek (ex/tapes) 62.6 11-7
4 Batchelor, Allen, Wajtknecht, King 62.4 15-9
5 Harris, Ellis, Musielak, Bellego 63.0 18-12
6 Heeps, Doyle, Lampart, King 63,1 21-15
7 Batchelor, Lawson, Pieszczek, Wajtknecht 62.6 24-18
8 Lampart, Allen, Shanes, Bellego 63.9 28-20
9 King, Ellis, Musielak (15m), Heeps 64.0 31-23
10 Lampart, Pieszczek, Doyle, Lawson 64.2 35-25
11 Harris, Batchelor, Allen, Shanes 64.4 37-29
12 Doyle, Ellis, King, Lawson 64.4 42-30
13 Pieszczek, Harris, Musielak, Batchelor 64.1 43-35
14 Harris, Musielak, Lampart, Heeps 64.1 46-38
15 Doyle, Batchelor, Pieszczek, King 63.8 51-39
Swindon 3 pts. Ipswich 0 pts.