Fast-starting Panthers prove too hot to handle for Witches who are well beaten at Foxhall in Good Friday double-header, first leg

Rohan Tungate

Rohan Tungate - Credit: Picture: Stephen Waller

Ipswich Witches 39 Peterborough Panthers 54

Ipswich Witches were given a lesson in gating as Peterborough Panthers took the opening honours in yesterday’s Good Friday double-header.

The home side started brightly but, in front of a 3,000 Bank Holiday crowd, they lost their way as the visitors showed more guile and adapted to the conditions far better than the average efforts of most of the home side.

Only Rohan Tungate and to a lesser extent Gino Manzares and Witches guest Rene Bach showed any form and it was a depressing performance from the home team.

“We can only apologise to the fans,” said Witches captain Ritchie Hawkins.

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“A big crowd and we have let them down. There are no excuses. I know every team in this league has dropped home points in the League Cup, but we were up for this meeting.”

Hawkins fall when in second place in heat four, which would have put the home side ahead, seemed to unsettle the Witches, who then conceded a 5-1 maximum in the next with the pairing of Morten Risager and Cameron Heeps way off the pace.

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The Witches were then never seriously in the hunt after Lasse Bjerre and Joe Jacobs gated to victory in heat nine to put the visitors eight ahead.

The first heat saw Manzares pass Lewis Blackbird down the back straight as Ryan Fisher closed in on Bach in third.

The two rode side by side on the final straight, with Bach falling as Fisher passed. Chris Mills got a flyer in the next for the home side with Hawkins at the back.

Two drawn heats in the first two races and it was three drawn races after the next, as Ulrich Ostergaard led the way home for the visitors.

It was a tight start to the meeting but the Witches looked set to break the deadlock as Tungate shot to the front in heat four.

Hawkins dived bravely under Oliver Greenwood to join his partner at the front. But the Witches skipper got it all wrong on the third bend of lap three and fell, gifting the Panthers a drawn race. It was a costly fall as the Panthers gated to a maximum 5-1 in the next.

Ostergaard was looking sharp for the visitors and the Panthers were four points ahead again at 19 points to 23. It stayed that way after Greenwood stopped coming out of turn two, but former Mildenhall star Blackbird was another Panther enjoying himself, as he won easily.

The home side were dealt a blow in heat nine as Jacobs flew from the start for the Panthers, with Bjerre alongside, as a disappointing Risager and slow-starting Heeps were left trailing.

The large crowd were being left disappointed by their home team’s racing and with good reason. And it was almost another 5-1 maximum in the next, but Bach bravely passed Ostergaard as the visitors went 10 ahead.

The Witches were in need of inspiration and Tungate provided it as he took a tactical ride in heat 11 and won well. For a moment Mills was into second place, but Fisher passed him. However the resultant 7-2 pulled Ipswich back to just five behind.

But the Panthers were on it and Alex Dryml produced another fine ride, as Jacobs clinched third to take the Panthers seven ahead. Tungate found himself on the floor on turn one in heat 13. He stayed down but was excluded and the Witches game was up.

Ipswich: R Bach 8, G Manzares 6, M Risager 3+1, C Heeps 2, R Tungate 11, C Mills 4, R Hawkins 5+1

Peterborough: R Fisher 7+1, L Blackbird 7+1, A Dryml 7, U Ostergaard 13, L Bjerre 10+3, J Jacobs 6, O Greenwood 4+1

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