Powerful Witches send Rockets into orbit

Danny King (left) and team mate Ritchie Hawkins

Danny King (left) and team mate Ritchie Hawkins - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches 55 Rye House 38

Ipswich ‘Sackers’ Witches kept their League Cup semi-final hopes alive with victory over Rye House Rockets at Foxhall Stadium.

Needing to pick up all three points, the home side always had too much for the gallant visitors, with Danny King again in impressive form, although his run of consecutive victories at Foxhall came to an end in heat 13 – after 15 straight wins – Edward Kennett beat him.

Witches reserves Nico Covatti and Stefan Nielsen were in good form for a Witches side missing the injured Gino Manzares and with skipper Ritchie Hawkins having a quiet night.

And Cameron Heeps and Rohan Tungate both shone, winning five races between them.

It was a stop/start performance in the first half of the meeting from the home side however, but in the second half of the meeting they impressed, finishing with two 5-1 maximums as Rye had no answer to the power of the Suffolk side.

It leaves the Witches hopes of reaching the semi-finals in their own hands – and victory at Plymouth tonight will be good enough – a draw may even be so.

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The Witches were never behind and King flew from the outside gate to lead heat one from start to finish in a time just 0.4 seconds outside the track record and the fastest time of the season.

It was another impressive ride from the Ipswich No.1, although the Rye House riders slotted easily into the minor positions.

Nielsen looked the most comfortable of all the reserves in heat two as he raced to victory, with Covatti third, poor Alex Edberg all over the place.

Nielsen was doing some sterling stuff early on and he held onto third place in the next as Heeps thundered from the tapes in style. Covatti was away like a rocket in the next and Tungate slipped past Nikolaj Jakobsen into second. But the Rye House rider, on his first visit to Foxhall, passed Tungate on bend four on lap two and went after Covatti, although the Argentinian held on.

The Witches were six ahead, but Rye struck right back in heat five with a 5-1 maximum through Kennett and Robin Aspegren.

It was a blow for the home side. King was away and gone in the next but skipper Hawkins was struggling at the back.

The Witches looked good for a maximum 5-1 in the next but Anders Mellgren went past Nielsen, with Tungate at the front.

Despite winning, the home side were not convincing and, King apart, had been inconsistent in the first half of the meeting.

But heat eight was a corker for the home side as Covatti and Nielsen, who replaced Hawkins, shot from the start to put the Witches eight ahead. Tungate cut back on Jakobsen to lead heat nine but Heeps took three laps to pass Edberg for third.

King made it three out of three in heat 10, while Hawkins passed and was then re-passed Mellgren in an exciting race.

Kennett was out on a tactical ride in heat 11 and in the first running of the race, Aspegren and Tungate fell. It was re-run with all four riders and Kennett took the win, with Tungate chasing all the way.

Covatti passed Branford as the Witches closed in on victory and Kennett became the first rider to beat King at Foxhall this season in a team meeting in the next. King had gone 15 races unbeaten.

Nielsen was having an excellent meeting and he gated across Aspegren, as partner Heeps swept round for a maximum 5-1, with King and Tungate repeating the feat in the final race as the Witches fans went home happy.

Ipswich’s meeting at Plymouth on Friday night was called off because of rain, as was Mildenhall’s clash with Rye House Raiders at West Row on Sunday.

Ipswich: D King 14, R Hawkins 1, R/R, C Heeps 11, R Tungate 11+1, S Nielsen 10+3, N Covatti 8

Rye House: E Kennett 13+1, R Aspegren 5+1, A Mellgren 6, R/R, N Jakobsen 8, R Branford 6+1, A Edberg 0

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