Witches and Scorpions start their play-off campaign at Foxhall Stadium with both teams wanting to get off to that winning start. Witches are at full strength
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
It all comes down to this.
Almost six months of Premier League action and Ipswich Witches have achieved their first goal of reaching the play-offs.
Now the hard work starts all over again.
Thursday night at Foxhall Stadium, 7.30pm, Scunthorpe Scorpions stand in the way of the Witches getting their play-off meetings off to a flying start. Along with Somerset Rebels, the Scorpions and Witches will race each other home and away over the next few weeks, with the winners of the round-robin group meeting either Edinburgh, Berwick or Workington in a two-legged play-off final.
This time last year the Witches season fell apart. Defeat to Workington in their opening play-off fixture, followed by defeat in Cumbria two days later, saw their play-off hopes ended.
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On Thursday, they will want to get off to a positive start against a Scunthorpe side who, despite a couple of injury blows, still pose a formidable challenge.
While the Witches are at full strength, the visitors are missing Aussie star Ryan Douglas and Ashley Birks with wrist injuries.
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Mark Lemon guests at reserve for Birks, while the Scorpions use rider replacement for Douglas, with any Scunthorpe rider able to take an extra ride.
Scorpions promoter Rob Godfrey, pictured above, said: “We’ve gone for the best guests available. We were hoping to have Steve Boxall at Ipswich; he initially said yes but then changed his mind. But we’ve still booked a quality guest in Mark Lemon.
“Everybody is now going to consider us to be the underdogs, but that’s fine because the pressure will be on the other teams, not us. But don’t write us off yet.”
The Witches have not lost at Foxhall Stadium this season and confidence should be very high in the home camp.
The round-robin group could come down to points difference, so every point will be vital.
It’s a crucial couple of days for the Witches, who head to Plymouth Devils on Friday night, in the second leg of the KO Cup semi-final.
The Witches lead by 40 points after the first leg.
Witches: R Tungate, R Hawkins, M Risager, G Manzares, R Worrall, C Heeps, A Ellis
Scorpions: N Klindt, D Howe, R/R, J Auty, T Jorgensen, T Perry, M Lemon
Mike’s prediction: Witches 50 Scorpions 40