Ipswich Witches open their Premier League season with defeat at Rye House

Nico Covatti in action during the Ipswich Speedway Practice Day at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, Suffolk

Nico Covatti in action during the Ipswich Speedway Practice Day at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, Suffolk, UK, on 11 March 2016. Picture: Steve Waller www.StephenWaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Nico Covatti’s 15-point haul wasn’t enough as Ipswich Witches opened their Premier League season with a 53-39 defeat at Rye House this evening.

Covatti picked up three heat wins and two seconds, one of which was on a tactical ride, but the Rockets still ran out easy winners as Edward Kennett scored a four-ride maximum.

Former Witches Leigh Lanham (10+1) and Cameron Heeps (9+1) both contributed well for the hosts, with Danny King’s 8+1 the only other significant score for the Witches.

Things did not start well for the Witches; in heat one captain Kennett got the home side off to a good start with partner Kasper Lykke in third for a 4-2. Heat two looked to be heading for a 3-3 until Peter Karger got past Darryl Ritchings to make it another 4-2 to the home side. The Rockets continued their strong start with a maximum in heat three before Nico Covatti stemmed the tide in the following heat for a 3-3 after holding off Stuart Robson to make it 16-8 to the home side after four heats.

Heat five was full of frustration for the Witches side; Danny King couldn’t find a way past Leigh Lanham at the front whilst Cameron Heeps pipped James Sarjeant on the line for third resulting in another 4-2 to the home side.

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Team manager Ritchie Hawkins reacted in heated six, sending Covatti out on a tactical ride but Kennett won the heat from the gate with Covatti in second for a 4-4. Heat seven looked like providing the Witches’ first heat advantage of the night as Morten Risager was first away from the tapes but Robson managed to get past the Dane to win the heat and secure a 3-3. Paco Castagna was adjudged to have touched the tapes in heat 8 and went off 15 metres as Sarjeant registered the second heat win of the night for the away side making it 30-20 to the Rockets.

Covatti was in fine form once again on the night and took the chequered flag in heat nine for a 3-3 but the home skipper Kennett was in unbeatable form again in heat ten taking the win ahead of Lewis Kerr with Lykke in third for another 4-2 to the Rockets. Karger fell in heat eleven but Robson beat King to the chequered flag to ensure the Witches could not capitalise. The meeting was sealed in heat 12 as Heeps and Ben Morley stormed to a maximum to make it 45-29 with three to go.

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The night didn’t get any better in heat 13 when King went through the tapes and went off 15 metres. Kennett was first away once again followed by teammate Robson but Covatti managed to split the pair and pushed the home captain hard but was unable to get past. Lanham won from the gate in heat 14 ahead of Risager and Kerr to make it 52-34 with one heat to go.

The Witches recorded their first heat advantage of the night in heat 15 as Covatti and King romped home but it was too little too late as it ended 53-39 to the home side.

Rye House Rockets 53: Edward Kennett 12, Leigh Lanham 10+1, Cameron Heeps 9+1, Stuart Robson 9, Ben Morley 7+3, Kasper Lykke 5, Peter Karger 1.

Ipswich Witches 39: Nico Covatti 15, Danny King 8+1, Morten Risager 5, James Sarjeant 4+1, Lewis Kerr 3+1, Paco Castagna 3, Darryl Ritchings 1+1.

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