Woeful Witches lose again as Hammers secure semi-final spot
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 44 Lakeside Hammers 45
Ipswich Witches’ hopes of qualification to the semi-finals of the Championship Shield are over after a second straight defeat at Foxhall Stadium.
Lakeside Hammers won by just a point after a last-heat decider saw the Essex side home. A result that guarantees them a semi-final place.
The Witches have yet to win a meeting so far this campaign.
This was a second consecutive disappointing night for the Foxhall fans, who have now seen their side lose twice at home. Last season the team were virtually unbeatable around Foxhall.
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Lakeside were far more consistent from the starts, while the Witches blew hot and cold.
Certainly, with Newcastle at Foxhall next Thursday for the Witches’ opening Championship clash, they will want to sort this out. Because if they start their league campaign as they have this Shield competition, fans will not be impressed.
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Danny King and to a lesser extent Rory Schlein were the two leading lights for the Witches, while Nico Covatti and Cameron Heeps failed to win a heat between them.
King flew from the start in heat one with the Lakeside pairing in second and third.
Michael Haertel got close to Ben Morley in third but it was a drawn first race. Heat two was a disaster for the Witches.
Connor Mountain slipped on turn one with his partner Danyon Hume having to go avoid him and the Hammers pairing shooting away for a 5-1 maximum.
It was not the start the home side were looking for.
Adam Ellis had started 2018 in great form and he showed his skill passing Cameron Heeps in a shared heat three.
Richard Lawson was away for the visitors in the next, but at the back his partner Alfie Bowtell fell and the heat was re-run. Lawson was away again as Nico Covatti struggled from the gate. Rory Schlein and Heeps both made good starts in race five, but Nick Morris got inbetween them coming out of turn two as the Witches narrowed the visitors’ lead to two.
King won his second race of the night as Michael Haertel made a hard but fair move on Zach Wajtknicht to nip into third.
It was all square at 18-all but Lakeside went back in front, Ellis, who rode for the Witches just a few years ago, looked smooth on his way to another win. Kyle Newman came third.
Haertel forced his way to the front in heat eight as Hume and Morley had a battle for third, Morley suffering engine failure as Hume went past and again the tie levelled up.
The Witches had hoped for a big win to keep their small hopes of qualification to the semi-finals alive, but when Lawson beat Schlein in heat nine it was the Hammers who were enjoying the night more.
Heat 10 was a cracker.
The Hammers gated to the front with King in third. But King got past Ellis before chasing after Newman. King did everything to try and pass but Newman rode a fine race to put the Hammers two up at the interval.
Covatti did everything he could to get to the first turn in heat 11 but fell on the third bend, gifting Lakeside a 5-1.
They led by six and the Witches brought out King for a tactical ride in the next.
And it worked, as Schlein and King sped from the tapes to reduce the arrears back to just two, with three heats to go. It was a tight first and second turn at the start of heat 13 and Covatti, who had endured a difficult night, bit the dust.
He was excluded from the re-run.
That re-run saw Morris hit the front and Lawson swept under King on turn four. It looked all over for the Witches, until Morris fell on the third lap on his own, gifting the Witches a 2-3 instead of a 1-5.
It was now three points the difference as the Hammers led and Newman did well to win heat 14.
It was a last-heat decider and for a few seconds it looked good for the home side as Schlein and King gated. But Morris forced his way past Schlein and that was the meeting over for the home side.
1 King, Morris, Morley, Haertel 57.2 3-3
2 Wajtknicht, Bowtell, Hume, Mountain 60.0 4-8
3 Ellis, Heeps, Schlein, Newman 58.7 7-11
4 Lawson, Hume, Covatti, Bowtell (f/x) 58.1 10-14
5 Schlein, Morris, Heeps, Morley 56.9 14-16
6 King, Lawson, Haertel, Wajtknicht 57.3 18-18
7 Ellis, Covatti, Newman, Mountain 57.3 20-22
8 Haertel, Wajtknicht, Hume, Morley (e/f) 58.3 24-24
9 Lawson, Schlein, Heeps, Bowtell 57.3 27-27
10 Newman, King, Ellis, Haertel 58.3 29-31
11 Morris, Morley, Mountain, Covatti (f/r) 60.2 30-36
12 Schlein, King*, Ellis, Wajtknicht 57.3 35-37
13 Lawson, King, Morris (f/x), Covatti (f/x) no time 37-40
14 Newman, Hume, Heeps, Wajtknicht 59.0 40-43
15 King, Morris, Schlein, Lawson 57.5 44-45
* tac ride
Ipswich 0 pts. Lakeside 3 pts.
Championship Shield table
Lakeside 4 10
Peterborough 3 6
Ipswich 3 0
Ipswich: D King 15+1, M Haertel 4, R Schlein 10, C Heeps 5+2, N Covatti 4, C Mountain 1, D Hume 5+1
Lakeside: N Morris 9, B Morley 3+2, A Ellis 8, K Newman 7, R Lawson 11, Z Wajtknicht 5, A Bowtell 2+1