Ipswich Witches will take a 10-point lead to Edinburgh Monarchs in second leg
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 50 Edinburgh Monarchs 40
Ipswich Witches will take a ten-point lead to Edinburgh tomorrow night in the second leg of this Championship play-off clash.
Quite whether the Witches cup is half full or half empty is open to conjecture as they managed to eek out a lead on a rain-effected night.
The Witches were in cruise control until a disastrous heat seven with the rain pouring down saw the Monarchs gain a 5-1 and only a strong finish has given the Witches a decent chance of victory.
Indeed the Witches lost their momentum at that point and a fall for Nathan Greaves when in second place in heat eight damaged them further.
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But they regained their mojo later in the meeting, a crucial heat 13 maximum from Danny King and Rory Schlein absolutely crucial. But one imagines the likes of King and Schlein are going to have to be at their very best at Edinburgh if Ipswich are to hold onto this lead.
King and Ricky Wells had a great battle on lap one in the opening race with the Ipswich skipper getting the better of the American before Nathan Greaves cut across Max Clegg on the first turn to win heat two, with Connor Mountain passing Mitchell Davey.
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Sam Masters was the visitors’ first heat winner and then Schlein hit the front in heat four.
The Foxhall crowd were brought to their feet in heat five as Kyle Newman flew from the tapes and Witches guest Mason Campton showed his worth with a terrific second place. It put the Witches eight up.
Schlein and King were out for the home team in heat six but Erik Riss produced a stunning ride to hold off the attentions of King. The rain started falling and Masters and Schlein appeared to be worried about starting heat seven as they chatted and on the start line.
When the tapes went up Masters got away and when Schlein pulled out of the race on lap two, it gifted the visitors a 5-1 maximum. After 20 minutes of track work, racing re-commenced and the Witches gated on a 5-1 in heat eight. But disaster struck as Greaves fell and the Monarchs, gifted a 5-1 in heat seven, were gifted a 3-3 in heat eight.
The momentum had swung Edinburgh’s way and although Newman did well to defeat Riss, Campton was struggling to stay on at the back. There were two races in one in heat 10 as Masters beat King and Mountain held off Clegg and Witches’ four-point lead was intact. Schlein won the next but Greaves was past by Josh Pickering on the final bend.
Campton beat Masters and King and Schlein brought the crowd on their feet as they gated to a heat 13 5-1. The Witches led by eight and Riss was excluded after he and Greaves collided from the start in heat 14. It was a big call from referee Barbara Horley. Greaves won the re-run as Masters shared the final race.
The Witches will probably rue the rain as they were in control at that point, but Riss’ exclusion was a bonus for them near the end. This tie could not be more in the melting pot.
Ipswich: D King 11+1, R/R, M Campton 10+1, K Newman 9+1, R Schlein 11+2, N Greaves 7, C Mountain 2+1
Edinburgh: R Wells 5, J Pickering 5+2, S Masters 14, R/R, E Riss 8, M Clegg 4+2, M Davey 4+2
1 King, Wells, Newman, Pickering 55.9 4-2
2 Greaves, Clegg, Mountain, Davey 58.8 8-4
3 Masters, Campton, Newman, Clegg 57.9 11-7
4 Schlein, Riss, Davey, Mountain 57.2 14-10
5 Newman, Campton, Wells, Pickering 58.0 19-11
6 Riss, King, Schlein, Clegg 57.2 22-14
7 Masters, Pickering, Greaves, Schlein 61.9 23-19
8 Campton, Pickering, Clegg, Greaves (f) 60.8 26-22
9 Newman, Riss, Davey, Campton 61.1 29-25
10 Masters, King, Mountain, Clegg 59.1 32-28
11 Schlein, Wells, Pickering, Greaves 59.6 35-31
12 Campton, Masters, Clegg, Mountain 60.4 38-34
13 Schlein, King, Riss, Wells 58.0 43-35
14 Greaves, Davey, Newman, Riss (ex) 60.0 47-37
15 Masters, King, Schlein, Riss 58.2 50-40