Ipswich Witches give leaders Sheffield Tigers a real scare before falling away in final heats
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Sheffield Tigers 52 Ipswich Witches 38
Ipswich Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins says his team are going into the play-offs in decent form.
The Witches are still missing injured Aussies Cameron Heeps and Justin Sedgmen, but they continue to defy that bad luck and put in a fine performance at Sheffield tonight, going down by 14 points, but it didn’t tell the whole story, the visitors from Suffolk being two ahead with just two heats to go.
“I’m well pleased with the way we have ridden tonight,” Hawkins said.
“OK, to lose it in the final heats is disappointing, but we had riders who went great tonight, especially Kyle Newman and Connor Mountain.
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“Kyle suffered some engine problems, but Connor, like Nathan Greaves at Glasgow, just gets better.
“I imagine we will get either Glasgow or Edinburgh in the play-offs next week, but we are ready.”
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The Witches pushed Sheffield close at Owlerton but couldn’t make it back-to-back away victories.
Having won at Glasgow on Wednesday night, the Witches travelled to Yorkshire in a buoyant mood. And although they were defeated, there was plenty of positives to take from taking on a team they have still to meet in the KO Cup semi-finals, as well as possibly the play-offs.
Indeed it took four 5-1s in the final four races to see Sheffield home. The Witches were ahead after heat 12. They had given the Tigers, unbeaten at home this season, a real scare
Sheffield had already thrashed Edinburgh in the first part of this double header with reserve Jan Graversen impressing.
He continued where he left off in the first meeting, winning heat one of this clash.
The Witches’ Nathan Greaves was another who enjoyed a recent good meeting, at Glasgow, but he didn’t get off the start in heat two as the Tigers took the lead.
The visitors got lucky in the next as Lewis Kerr, guesting for the Tigers, packed up when leading, but there was nothing lucky about Connor Mountain’s fine win in heat four over Kyle Howarth as the Witches gained their first heat win and heat advantage.
Ipswich repeated the dose in the next as Kyle Newman stormed to the front to win heat five and with Danny King third, the Witches were level.
It remained level after heat six with Graversen losing for the first time as Greaves held him off on the run-in to the line, and heat seven, with Howarth winning for the Tigers.
It was nip and tuck, Schlein sweeping round the outside of Graversen in another shared race.
Schlein was away well in heat nine, but Lasse Bjerre produced a wonderful pass on the Aussie on the final bend as the stalemate was broken and the Tigers took a two-point lead.
Mark Riss had proved a fine guest for the Witches at Glasgow and he was again doing well at the big Owlerton bowl, passing Graversen and winning heat 10.
Teenager, Mountain was really impressing and when he teamed up with King in heat 11 for a Witches 5-1, the Suffolk side were ahead for the first time in the meeting. It didn’t last long as the Tigers struck right back with a 5-1 of their own in heat 12, before rattling off three more on the bounce, to seal victory and strenghten their lead at the top of the table.
Sheffield: J Grajczonek 10+1, R/R, L Bjerre 11, L Kerr 4+1, K Howarth 11+1, J Graversen 14+2, G Wood 2+1
Ipswich: D King 6+1, R/R, M Riss 7+2, K Newman 7, R Schlein 9, C Mountain 7+1, N Greaves 2+1
1 Graversen, Riss, King, Grajczonek 62.2 3-3
2 Graversen, Wood, Mountain, Greaves (ret) 63.1 8-4
3 Bjerre, Newman, M.Riss, Kerr (ret) 61.5 11-7
4 Mountain, Howarth, Schlein, Wood 63.3 13-11
5 Newman, Bjerre, King, Kerr (ret) 62.1 15-15
6 Grajczonek, Schlein, Greaves, Graversen 62.1 18-18
7 Howarth, Newman, M.Riss, Wood 62.9 21-21
8 Schlein, Graversen, Kerr, Mountain 63.3 24-24
9 Bjerre, Schlein, Kerr, Greaves 62.9 28-26
10 Riss, Grajczonek, Graversen, Newman (ret) 62.8 31-29
11 King, Mountain, Howarth, Wood 63.1 32-34
12 Bjerre, Graversen, Greaves, Riss 63.4 37-35
13 Howarth, Grajczonek, King, Schlein 62.1 42-36
14 Graversen, Kerr, Mountain, Newman (ret) 63.0 47-37
15 Howarth, Grajczonek, Schlein, King 62.9 52-38
Sheffield 3 pts. Ipswich 0 pts.