Ipswich Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins pays tribute to his side after win over Sheffield Tigers
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 52 Sheffield Tigers 38
Ipswich Witches moved to the top of the Championship table after a fierce battle with Sheffield Tigers at Foxhall Stadium tonight.
The Witches started well, but lost their momentum as a Kyle Howarth-inspired Yorkshire team threatened to put a dent in their unbeaten home record.
However, after an enforced break due to an injury to Sheffield’s Nathan Stoneman, the Witches came out fighting, sending their fans home happy.
The home side’s response to a tepid mid-meeting showing was excellent and all the Witches came to the party as they coped without Justin Sedgmen, who was out after suffering concussion on Monday.
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This was great stuff as the Witches unbeaten home record remained in tact.
Team boss Ritchie Hawkins was pleased with every rider chipping in and believes the team can consolidate their positon in the table in the coming weeks.
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“I don’t think anyone had a perfect night but everyone has pulled off important rides when they needed to and every rider stepped up a gear after the interval,” he said.
“Nobody was perfect but they all did a good job.
“We are happy with where we are at and being at the top is the best place to be. Obviously others have meetings in hand on us but we are in a good position and we have meetings in the coming months where we can consolidate that. I am happy enough and it was important tonight that Sheffield didn’t get a point as they are a team fighting for the play-offs.”
King flew round the outside on bends three and four of the fast-starting Todd Kurtz in heat one as the home side started with a heat advantage on a gorgeous evening on the Heath.
Witches reserves Nathan Greaves and Connor Mountain emerged from a tight first turn ahead as the home side started strongly. Lasse Bjerre had to go off 15m after touching the tapes in the next as Newman made the most of a slip by the fast-starting Josh Bates.
The Witches had made a good start to the meeting but Tigers skipper Howarth got his side’s first heat win in heat four to arrest their early slide.
Sheffield are not one of the title favourites for nothing and Josh Grajczonek picked up their second heat win, with Kurtz third, to reduce the Witches lead to six. Howarth held off King’s attentions to make it three Tigers wins on the bounce, before Josh Bates flew round the outside to pass the fast-gating Schlein in heat seven.
But the Tigers couldn’t land much more of a blow, with Greaves bravely holding onto third place.
Kurtz made it five Tigers heat winners on the spin as they slowly ate into the Witches lead as the momentum swung the Yorkshire side’s way. Nathan Stoneman took a nasty fall coming out of the second turn in race nine, with again Howarth away. The Tigers man suffered a nasty leg injury.
The break didn’t deter Howarth however, as he jetted to his third heat win of the night. Ipswich needed some inspiration and King provided it as Bates, in fourth, hit into Newman coming out of the final bend. Bates was apologetic and excluded. Ipswich were six up again and Schlein’s masterful second bend manoeuvre kept it that way. Heeps and Bjerre were neck and neck down the back straight in heat 12, with the Ipswich man winning the duel, as Mountain picked up a significant third.
The Witches had regained their mojo and King gated to the front in heat 13, Schlein took care of Howarth on the first turn before blasting under Grajczonek. Schlein and Grajczonek collided in the final heat with the Tigers man excluded, Schlein was up ok.
Ipswich: D King 13, K Newman 8+1, C Heeps 10+1, R/R, R Schlein 12+2, N Greaves 5+1, C Mountai 4+2.
Sheffield: J Grajczonek 6, T Kurtz 7+1, L Bjerre 4, J Bates 7, K Howarth 12, J Bailey 2, N Stoneman 0.
1 King, Kurtz, Newman, Grajczonek 57.2 4-2
2 Greaves, Mountain, Bailey, Stoneman 60.2 9-3
3 Newman, Bates, Heeps, Bjerre (15m) 58.0 13-5
4 Howarth, Schlein, Mountain, Stoneman 58.4 16-8
5 Grajczonek, Heeps, Kurtz, Greaves 57.2 18-12
6 Howarth, King, Newman, Bailey 57.3 21-15
7 Bates, Schlein, Greaves, Bjerre 57.4 24-18
8 Kurtz, Newman, Bailey, Mountain 59.1 26-22
9 Howarth, Schlein, Heeps, Stoneman (f/x) 57.5 29-25
10 King, Bjerre, Newman, Bates (ex) 57.9 33-27
11 Schlein, Grajczonek, Kurtz, Greaves 57.4 36-30
12 Heeps, Bjerre, Mountain, Bailey 57.5 40-32
13 King, Schlein, Grajczonke, Howarth 57.0 45-33
14 Heeps, Bates, Greaves, Bailey 57.7 49-35
15 Howarth, King, Schlein, Grajczone (ex) 57.2 52-38
Ipswich 3 pts. Sheffield 0 pts.
Ipswich 23 47
Edinburgh 20 44
Glasgow 17 42
Redcar 19 35
Sheffield 17 33
Peterborough 16 28
Newcastle 17 25
Workington 12 21
Scunthorpe 22 20
Berwick 23 10