‘I feel a bit robbed’ – Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins

Rory Schlein. Photo: STEVE WALLER

Rory Schlein. Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Newcastle Diamonds 45 Ipswich Witches 45

Rory Schlein won a last-heat decider as Ipswich Witches picked up a battling draw at Newcastle in the Championship tonight.

Already out of the Shield and KO Cup, the Witches only have the league to concentrate on. But they’ve made a good start to their campaign, picking up five points out of a possible seven against the Diamonds.

Schlein was well backed up by Cameron Heeps and guests Josh Pickering and Ben Barker. However, Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins felt Ipswich should have had more from the night.

“I feel a bit robbed,” he said.

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“We should have won this. A tactical sub ride has kept them in the hunt, on their own track.

“I’m not a believer that home teams should ever have a tactical sub. We had it at Ipswich the other week. It’s embarrassing.

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“Rory has done brilliant for us in the last race and Cam (Heeps) has won four races. Our guests were good.

“But I came here expecting to win and although a draw is decent, it’s not a win.

“The team spirit though was immense again and that’s so positive.”

Ludvig Lindgren got the home side off to a tidy start with a fast time win in heat one as the Diamonds took an immediate lead.

Connor Mountain fell in race two. But the Witches got level in the next, Heeps passing Kevin Doolan, as Pickering passed both Diamonds. Schlein won a re-run heat four after Tario Aarnio crashed first time and Barker was a comfortable winner of heat five.

The Witches had settled down and Pickering’s third place in that heat put them ahead by two.

Schlein won from the tapes again in heat six.

Pickering was proving an inspired guest. He went from first to last in race seven, to join Heeps at the front and the Witches led by six. Heeps continued his unbeaten run in heat eight.

Lindgren came in for a tactical ride in heat nine with the Diamonds six points down.

But Schlein saw off the challenge, with Mountain just being pipped for third by Doolan on the run-in. Heeps, unbeaten from his first three rides, fell in heat 10. The referee deemed Heeps didn’t clear the track in time and as well as being excluded, his partner Pickering was made to go off 15m in the re-run.

The Diamonds got the 5-1 they needed and were back to just two adrift. It was all level one race later as Lindgren won his second on the bounce.

Mountain had failed to score in his first three rides, but he did well to pass Ashley Morris as the Witches nipped ahead again.

Lindgren lowered Schlein’s colours for the first time as it came to a tense finish.

It had been a tough night for the Witches reserves and Hume fell in heat 14.

It left Pickering on his own and he did well to split the Diamonds as the meeting went down to that last heat, where Schlein kept his cool to bring the draw home for Ipswich.

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