‘We’ll race any of them’.... Hawkins upbeat as Witches head into the play-offs despite Poole defeat
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Poole Pirates 51 Ipswich Witches 39
Ipswich Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins said his team will not be worried who they face in the play-offs despite losing 39-51 at Poole in their final league clash of the regular season.
It means the Witches will have to wait until Thursday night or Friday morning to find out who their opponents will be in the play-offs, as the Pirates need to win at King's Lynn to claim top spot and get first choice of semi-final opposition - Ipswich, Swindon or Wolves.
Not that it concerns Hawkins.
"I'm quite happy to race any of them to be honest," he said after the Poole meeting.
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"We have the ability and determination. We can perform anywhere. We might have been written off before the season but we thrive on that and we are looking to win the title."
And on the defeat at Poole, Hawkins added.
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"We've made a lot of progress here tonight. We came into it relaxed and we won't worry about coming here next week if we have too. All the riders have gone away happy."
It was a tough meeting for the Witches who were never ahead, but were never too far behind either, until the final few heats.
There were impressive performances from Chris Harris and Danny King, while Richard Lawson also enjoyed a decent meeting.
Former Witch Nico Covatti was well away in heat one with Niels Kristian Iversen all over him for two laps before the Pirate pulled away in an opening drawn heat.
The home side took the lead in the second with the two Poole reserves too good for Jake Allen.
And the Pirates, sharp from the tapes, doubled their lead in the next, despite all of Lawson's efforts.
Allen gated to the front in heat four and King produced a wonderful inside pass on Jack Holder to join his partner at the front.
Heeps was excluded from heat five after falling on the first turn. It left Iversen on his own and he gave his all to try and pass Klindt, but to no avail. The home side were six up.
King made it two wins out of two for him with a tapes to flag to victory in the next. And the Witches wouldn't give up, as Lawson linked up with Harris for another Witches maximum.
The Foxhall side were two points down, but it was back to six in the next as the Pirates scored their third maximum of the night.
Grajczonek flew round the outside of the fast-starting King in heat nine, as the home side piled the pressure on the Witches.
But the Harris/Lawson pairing were at it again in heat 10, Lawson hugging the inside, while Harris shot round the outside.
But in this topsy-turvy clash, the Pirates struck straight back as Jack Holder and Tomas Jonasson shot to the front.
Klindt was leading heat 12 but his chain came off on the entrance to bend one on the second lap, Harris doing wonderfully well to miss him.
The race was awarded with Harris and James Sarjeant picking up a 5-1. Iversen passed Holder but Poole went six up with two to go. And when Grajczonek swept past Lawson in heat 14, the Pirates were home.
Poole: B Kurtz 6, N Covatti 8+1, N Klindt 7, J Grajczonek 12+1, J Holder 8+1, T Jonasson 6+1, R Wells 5+2
Ipswich: NK Iversen 7, C Heeps 1+1, C Harris 8+1, R Lawson 9+1, D King 7+1, J Sarjeant 2+1, J Allen 5.
1 Covatti, Iversen, Heeps, Kurts 3-3
2 Jonasson, Wells, Allen, Sarjeant 8-4
3 Klindt, Grajczonek, Lawson, Harris 13-5
4 Allen, King, Holder, Wells 14-10
5 Klindt, Iversen, Grajczonek, Heeps (f/x) 18-12
6 King, Kurtz, Covatti, Sarjeant 21-15
7 Lawson, Harris, Holder, Jonasson 22-20
8 Covatti, Wells, Allen, Heeps 27-21
9 Grajczonek, King, Klindt, Sarjeant 31-23
10 Harris, Lawson, Covatti, Kurtz 32-28
11 Holder, Jonasson, Iversen, Heeps 37-29
12 Harris, Sarjeant, Wells, Klindt (f/x) 38-34
13 Kurtz, Iversen, Holder, King 42-36
14 Grajczonek, Lawson, Jonasson, Allen 46-38
15 Grajczonek, Holder, Lawson, Iversen (f/x) 51-39
Poole 3 pts. Ipswich 0 pts.