It’s all square at Foxhall in thrilling finale. But Witches are left to rue what should have been as battling Diamonds get their just desserts
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 45 Newcastle Diamonds 45
Ipswich Witches and Newcastle Diamonds served up a feast of good speedway at Foxhall Stadium – as honours finished even in the Suffolk sunshine.
The never-say-die Diamonds looked set to snatch a dramatic last-heat victory until, on the final bend of the final lap, Ipswich’s Rohan Tungate nipped past the impressive Lewis Kerr to share the heat 3-3 and leave the meeting all square.
It was perhaps a fitting scoreline in front of another good Bank Holiday crowd. However, this was two points dropped by the Witches as Newcastle were reduced to just five riders after Chris Schramm was taken to hospital with a back injury in heat two.
Already using rider replacement for Anton Rose, the Diamonds could only field one rider in two heats.
Any ruthless side would have demolished Newcastle. However ruthless isn’t a word one could associate with the Suffolk side right now.
Once more the Witches were slow from the gate and spent most of the afternoon producing most of the excitement as they strived to come from the back. And while it was thrilling stuff, to entertain the crowd – a victory would have been a tad more pleasurable for most.
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“It’s two points lost as far as I’m concerned,” Witches boss Chris Louis bemoaned afterwards.
“I’m sorry but I thought that was a pretty terrible performance.
“Fair play to Newcastle. But they came here with a rider down (Rosen) and then lost a reserve (Schramm) before he’d completed a race.
“There are no excuses. The track was good. Getting a draw in the last race wasn’t special for me, we should have had it won.
And in a more worrying line for the current Witches septet Louis added: “The riders are testing my patience.”
Louis was clearly in no mood to take pleasure from this draw, although the crowd were treated to an exciting Premier League clash.
The Witches were never behind, but No.1 Richie Worrall’s tapes infringement in heat one was just the kind of start he and his team didn’t want. Indeed Worrall’s four points were a big disappointment.
Schramm crashed horribly in the next heat after he lifted coming out of turn two and, with the former Ipswich rider off to hospital and the Diamonds down to five riders, most expected the Witches to run away with it from thereon.
But it didn’t happen.
Risager and Cameron Heeps were both left at the start in heat five, while Gino Manzares was at least doing himself proud, with victory in heat six.
Manzares passed Lewis Rose in heat eight before Heeps produced a sublime pass on Christian Henry to put the Witches four ahead.
The unlucky Tungate was leading heat 11 before Tom Perry – guesting for Adam Ellis in the Ipswich team – crashed when in third.
Perry was taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.
In the re-run Tungate had to pass Robson for second, before it was Risager next who thrilled the crowd in heat 12, passing Kerr on the run-in to the line. It was boiling up to an exciting finish with Tungate in the middle of much of the drama.
Firstly, he was excluded in heat 13 for not being under power and, after Rose beat Ritchie Hawkins to the line in heat 14, it was Tungate who was excluded once more in the final race, this time for delaying the start.
It didn’t look a great decision from referee Dave Robinson. But Tungate got his own back. Starting 15m back, the Aussie passed Kerr on the final bend to snatch a draw for the home side, as the crowd went crazy!
INJURY UPDATE: Chris Schramm walked out of Ipswich Hospital only battered and bruised, but Tom Perry has a broken left collar bone.