King’s Speech: Strong words from Ritchie Hawkins did the trick for Ipswich Witches

Ipswich Witches' team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

Ipswich Witches' team manager Ritchie Hawkins. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

It was nice to come from behind and get a victory, 50-39, against Edinburgh Monarchs last Thursday evening, a success that ensured our unbeaten home record at Foxhall was preserved, writes Danny King in his weekly column.

We were three points down at half-time and team manager Ritchie Hawkins had a bit of a go at the team, which was entirely justified.

Things were not right and what was said needed to be said.

Ritchie does not rant and rave a lot but he is one of those people that when he does, people listen.

There were a lot of shocked faces amongst the riders but at the end of the day, his job is to win meetings.

I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly was going wrong in the meeting – we were probably not attacking enough and we needed to wake up.

Thankfully we did that and got the victory.

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We are back at home tonight, as Berwick Bandits are the visitors to Foxhall.

They have not done very well in the league but they have strengthened their team in recent weeks and we will have to be on our mettle.

They will, however, be without Nick Morris, Lewis Bridger, Dany Gappmaier and Lee Payne for the meeting.

We have already met them home and away in the Knockout Cup, winning at home 60-30 and losing narrowly on the road.

At the moment, we are having a good run of form on our home track and I think that is partly down to how it is set up.

It’s set up how we want it, with some grip on it, and a lot of away riders don’t like grippy tracks, which is what Ipswich has always been.

Tomorrow night we go to Edinburgh and that is always a tough place to go and collect points.

The worst case scenario would be that we came away with a point.

It is not going to be easy but we have to have belief as a team when we go away from home.

It is still early days in the Championship but the league is beginning to take shape and we are in the mix in third position in the table.

It’s the British final on Monday at Belle Vue and obviously my target will be to retain the title I won for the first time in my career, last year.

It is going to be tough but I am looking forward to the event and I am pleased with my current form, s9o I think I am going into it in good shape to try and defend my title.

There is a strong line-up of riders, it’s a tough field, and you always need that bit of luck on the night.

Obviously Craig Cook will be one of the favourites to do well, having home advantage, while the Worrall brothers, Steve (Belle Vue/Newcastle) and Richie (Glasgow), will also be in contention.

Chris Harris (Rye House/Peterborough) is in good form this year too.

There are a lot of good guys in there but the key is to take one race at a time and not to get carried away.

It is nice if you can progress straight to the final though, bypassing the semi-final

For me last year, the final was just a bit of a blur, I kept waiting for the checkered flag. Although it looked all over the place, it sort of felt in control.

I have got a busy couple of weeks ahead of me, the races are going to come thick and fast but that is how I like it.

There are my commitments with the Leicester Lions too and last week I scored 12 as we won our first home meeting of the season, against the Somerset Rebels.

I then scored seven on Monday as we lost at Wolverhampton Wolves.

It’s been a tough start to the Premiership season for the Lions but slowly we are turning things around and getting a bit of momentum.

We host Belle Vue Aces on Saturday, before two home meetings against Poole Pirates and Somerset.

It’s Kevin Doolan’s testimonial on Saturday, at Berwick.

I don’t know if any of the Witches are taking part due to race commitments elsewhere, but Kevin, who is well known to Ipswich supporters, deserves a big turnout.

I am looking forward to seeing a big turnout at Foxhall tonight against Berwick, we really appreciate your support.


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