‘Soft’ Witches slammed by Louis after Sheffield debacle

Rohan Tungate (left) and Ritchie Hawkins get set to be pushed off ahead of heat four of the Ipswich

Rohan Tungate (left) and Ritchie Hawkins get set to be pushed off ahead of heat four of the Ipswich v Sheffield (Premier League) meeting at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, Suffolk, UK on 04 May 2015, with Gino Manzares looking on. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches 44 Sheffield Tigers 49

Ipswich ‘Sackers’ Witches director of speedway Chris Louis slammed his ‘soft’ team after they were beaten at Foxhall by Sheffield Tigers on Monday afternoon.

The Yorkshire side, who don’t have the most impressive of records at the Suffolk track, couldn’t believe their luck, as they came up against a Witches team who were so off the boil, any neutral watching would have thought the Tigers were the home side.

On a gorgeous afternoon, in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd, Louis couldn’t hide his frustrations after his team’s defeat.

“I’m shocked and lost for words,” he said.

“It’s never easy preparing a track for day meetings but it was our riders who were moaning and complaining about it. Sheffield just got on with it.

“No, the track was not ideal, but we have a soft underbelly, that’s our problem.

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“Too many of my riders are mentally soft and they lacked the commitment to just get on with it. That’s the bottom line.

“And the worrying thing is, in my opinion, we have a lot stronger teams than Sheffield coming to Foxhall this season.

“Am I concerned about this team? Yes, right now I am to be honest.”

Louis was only too right to be annoyed with his team’s efforts.

Only Nico Covatti and Danny King can hold their heads high – they won seven races between them, while the rest of the Witches managed just one.

Covatti, especially, was in excellent form and moved seamlessly from the reserve position into the main body of the team.

OK, it’s early days still and lots of points to race for, but already the Witches are playing catch-up in the Premier League, as captain Ritchie Hawkins admitted.

“Today has been a massive disappointment,” he said.

“We showed we have real weaknesses in the team and at reserve was where we lost it today – yes I know I’m talking about myself in that.

“It’s the old chestnut that we must dust ourselves down and go again at Berwick on Friday. But that’s the reality of it, although we are behind the game already.”

Daytime meetings at Foxhall have never been much to the home side’s liking. Yesterday’s performance was one of the poorest, but there have been plenty of other hapless Bank Holiday home efforts by the Witches over the years. And quite frankly it isn’t good enough.

Fans are not interested in all the technical garbage from riders about set-ups and track preparation.

It’s the same for both sides – in fact the Witches have had so many years of excuses about track preparation on a Bank Holiday at Foxhall – they should be experts at coping.

On Monday they hardly helped themselves conceding two 5-1 maximums to the Tigers in the first two races.

King was unlucky when his bike spluttered to a halt while in second in the first heat, and Hawkins was another who can feel hard done by as he took evasive action when Arthur Sissis almost overcooked it in the next, putting him a long way behind.

Hawkins was on the floor again two heats later, as he laid his bike down to avoid Jason Garrity – who somehow stayed on his bike despite looking like he may fall.

Hawkins was excluded and referee Mick Bates was not endearing himself to the Foxhall faithful.

It was a ten-point lead to the Tigers by the end of heat seven as the disappointing Rohan Tungate fell while chasing Ty Proctor.

Tungate was excluded as the first-half of the meeting became embarrassing for the home side.

Covatti and King were keeping the Witches in it but when Tungate was again excluded, this time for hitting Nick Morris as they exited the fourth bend, the writing was on the wall.

Covatti’s six-point tactical ride win in heat 12 gave the Witches a sniff of hope and King and Tungate reduced the deficit to three with two races to go.

But it was a false dawn from a rubbish Witches team performance and the Tigers sewed the meeting up in heat 14.

Sheffield have never had it easier at Foxhall – and it will be many years before they do so again, one suspects.

1 Compton, Morris, Nielsen, King (e/f) 58.5 1-5

2 Bates, Sissis, Hawkins, Nielsen 59.8 2-10

3 Covatti, Proctor, Heeps, Birks 58.6 6-12

4 Tungate, Garrity, Bates, Hawkins 58.2 9-15

5 Morris, Covatti, Compton, Heeps 57.7 11-19

6 King, Garrity, Covatti, Sissis 57.8 15-21

7 Proctor, Birks, Nielsen, Tungate (f/x) 59.7 16-26

8 Compton, Heeps, Hawkins, Bates 58.4 19-29

9 Covatti, Garrity, Heeps, Sissis 58.8 23-31

10 King, Proctor, Nielsen, Birks 58.3 27-33

11 Morris, Compton, Hawkins, Tungate (ex) 58.2 28-38

12 Covatti*, Birks, Nielsen, Bates 59.1 35-40

13 King, Morris, Tungate, Garrity 58.2 39-42

14 Proctor, Bates, Heeps, Nielsen 59.5 40-47

15 Covatti, Morris, Tungate, Compton 59.5 44-49

*tac ride points count double

Ipswich 0pts Sheffield 3pts.

Witches: D King 9, R/R, N Covatti 18, C Heeps 5, R Tungate 5, S Nielsen 4, R Hawkins 3+1

Tigers: N Morris 12+1, A Compton 9+1, A Birks 4+1, T Proctor 10, J Garrity 6, A Sissis 2+1, J Bates 6+2

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