Schlein the hero in final heat as Ipswich Witches are through to the play-off final
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Edinburgh Monarchs 48 Ipswich Witches 41 Agg:88-91
Ipswich Witches are through to the Championship play-off final after a thrilling 91-88 aggregate victory against Edinburgh Monarchs tonight.
Leading by 10 points after the first leg on Thursday, the Witches battled to the very end, with Rory Schlein winning heat 15 in exciting fashion to seal the deal for the visitors.
“Rory has been absolute class for us tonight, he has dragged us through this meeting,” said Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins.
“It was tough out there, but we all hung on. So pleased for everyone.
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“Our reserves were again quite brilliant for us and Kyle Newman is riding better and better. Only Danny King had a bad night. But he wants to do so well for the club, he mustn’t try to do it all himself. He puts himself under a bit of pressure.”
The home side started the meeting with a 5-1, King and guest Mason Campton outpaced by the Monarchs duo. However, when Max Clegg hit the tapes in the reserve race, Connor Mountain and Nathan Greaves took full advantage to level the scores up. But the Witches hadn’t started well and Edinburgh hammered home another maximum in the next.
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Erik Riss won heat four as Mountain passed Mitchell Davey on lap one. Masters won heat five and the Witches lead was down to four overall.
Schlein arrested the Witches lack of heat winners in the next and Greaves made the most of Josh Pickering’s error as the Witches gained a heat advantage. Ipswich had settled down and Kyle Newman made a good start in heat seven, before Erik Riss got past. The Witches got a crucial 5-0 in heat eight as first Pickering and then Clegg crashed out for the Monarchs, gifting the visitors the lead on the night and 11 on aggregate.
But this meeting was far from finished.
Schlein was on his third race in four and he took Masters wide on turns one and two as he and Mountain shared heat nine. Newman and Campton were away in heat 10 but disaster struck Campton as he fell.
King made the gate in the next but Erik Riss blasted past him as Edinburgh struck back with a 4-2 and narrowed the Witches lead to nine. It was down to seven one race later as Clegg passed Greaves.
Heat 13 proved disastrous for the Witches. King jumped the start for a second time on the night and was excluded. Mountain replaced him. In the re-run Schlein fell and was excluded. Edinburgh got a 5-1 and were just three behind.
Newman won heat 14 before Schlein roared under Masters who had hit the front, in the final heat, to claim the victory.
It sent the Witches fans in the crowd wild with delight.
The Witches home leg of the final against Sheffield or Glasgow will be next Saturday at Foxhall. It’s likely to be Sheffield, who lead by 28 points after the first leg.
Edinburgh: R Wells 10, J Pickering 3+2, S Masters 11, M Riss 8+1, E Riss 12+2, M Clegg 4+1, M Davey 0.
Ipswich: D King, R/R, M Campton 5+1, K Newman 8, R Schlein 13, N Greaves 5+2, C Mountain 6+2.
1 Wells, Pickering, Campton, King (Ret) 56.4 5-1
2 Mountain, Greaves, Clegg (15m), Davey 57.6 6-6
3 Masters, M Riss, Campton, Newman 55.8 11-7
4 E Riss, Schlein, Mountain, Davey 56.0 14-10
5 Masters, King, M Riss, Greaves 56.0 18-12
6 Schlein, Wells, Greaves, Pickering 55.8 20-16
7 E Riss, Newman, Campton, Davey 56.0 23-19
8 Schlein, Greaves, Pickering (f/x), Clegg (f/x) 57.1 23-24
9 M Riss, Schlein, Mountain, Masters 57.0 26-27
10 Newman, Wells, Pickering, Campton (f) 57.8 29-30
11 E Riss, King, Clegg, Newman 56.4 33-32
12 Masters, Campton, Clegg, Greaves 58.9 37-34
13 Wells, Riss, Mountain, Schlein (F/x), King (ex) 58.1 42-35
14 Newman, Riss, Clegg, Greaves 58.8 45-38
15 Schlein, Masters, Riss, King 57.3 48-41
Aggregate: Edinburgh 88 Ipswich 91