Tepid Witches fluff their lines on their biggest night of the season

Cameron Heeps

Cameron Heeps - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich 37 pts Edinburgh 53 pts

Barring a miracle of biblical proportions, Ipswich Witches hopes of winning this season’s Premier League knock-out up are over.

In front of an expectant and excited home crowd the Witches riders failed to deliver the goods and were ruthlessly dealt with by a strong Edinburgh Monarchs side in this first leg clash at Foxhall Stadium last night – the second leg is this evening in Scotland.

All the attacking of the track and tough first-bend racing the Witches had shown at Foxhall during the last few months deserted them on their biggest night of the season and against a quality side, they paid a heavy price. It was a tepid effort from the home team and they can have no excuses.

Badly needing to get on top of their opponents from the off, it was Edinburgh who struck three 5-1 maximums in the first five races and the Scottish side never looked back.

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It was a sombre Foxhall Stadium throughout and the loss of Gino Manzares with a shoulder injury after two pointless rides, dampened the mood further.

The Witches did rally briefly mid-meeting, just as they did at Somerset in the play-off meeting last week at the Oak Tree Arena, but Ipswich’s heat leaders Rohan Tungate, Morten Risager and Richie Worrall had little success against the Monarchs’ top men. The Witches only won three heats all night.

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It was left to the Witches reserves, Adam Ellis and Ritchie Hawkins, as well as Cameron Heeps to lead the home charge. They did their bit, sadly few others did.

Craig Cook smashed the Foxhall track record in heat one and with Tungate and Heeps making a pickle of the first two turns, the Monarchs took an early lead.

Hawkins and Ellis got the Witches back on track, Ellis passing Aaron Fox down the back straight to lead, with Hawkins flying into second to join his young partner.

It was a breathless start to the meeting and it got more crazy in the next as Manzares nipped up the inside of both Monarchs down the back straight before getting in a mess on turn four, as the visitors sped away for another 5-1 and a 7-11 lead.

Worrall’s fuel cap came adrift as the Scottish side stretched their lead and things got no better in heat five as Cook gated and Sedgmen passed Risager, with the home side now 10 points down.

Manzares pulled out of the meeting as Tungate passed Fox in heat six and Hawkins was on the deck in the next in a tough first turn with Derek Sneddon. But Hawkins got back up to have a great battle with Max Fricke, although again the Monarchs’ star won.

The Witches had won just one of the first seven races but they showed a bit of grit in heat eight with Ellis and Heeps attacking the first two bends to gain a 5-1 over the previously unbeaten Sedgmen. Tungate produced a storming second turn to slice through the visiting pairing and Heeps joined him at the front as the Witches closed the gap to two points.

Cook steadied the Edinburgh ship in heat 11 as Hawkins made his first mistake of the meeting and Sedgmen nipped through. Ellis fell at the back in the next, but Monarchs were already on a 5-1 and they had as good as wrapped up a first-leg lead.

Worrall was excluded for knocking off Masters in heat 13 and Ellis bravely passed Fox in the next. Cook and Masters completed their maximums in the final race as they closed in on their second trophy in the space of 10 days, having won the League Cup last week.

1 Cook, Sedgmen, Heeps, Tungate 56.3 (track record) 1-5

2 Ellis, Hawkins, Fox, Sneddon 57.6 6-6

3 Fricke, Sedgmen, Risager, Manzares 58.3 7-11

4 Masters, Ellis, Sneddon, Worrall (e/f) 56.9 9-15

5 Cook, Sedgmen, Risager, Manzares 56.6 10-20

6 Masters, Heeps, Rungate, Fox 57.2 13-23

7 Fricke, Hawkins, Worrall, Sneddon (f) 58.1 16-26

8 Heeps, Ellis, Sedgmen, Sneddon 57.6 21-27

9 Masters, Risager, Hawkins, Fox 58.4 24-30

10 Tungate, Heeps, Fricke, Fox 58.2 29-31

11 Cook, Worrall, Sedgmen, Hawkins 57.6 31-35

12 Fricke, Fox, Risager, Ellis no time 32-40

13 Cook, Masters, Tungate, Worrall (f/x) 57.8 33-45

14 Fricke, Hawkins, Ellis, Fox 58.4 36-48

15 Cook, Masters, Ellis, Heeps 58.8 37-53

Ipswich: R Tungate 5, C Heeps 8+1, M Risager 5, G Manzares 0, R Worrall 3+1, R Hawkins 7+2, A Ellis 9+2

Edinburgh: C Cook 15, J Sedgmen 8+3, M Fricke 13, R/R, S Masters 13+2, A Fox 3+1, D Sneddon 1.

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