‘The boys have given me everything’... Ipswich Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Belle Vue Aces 47 Ipswich Witches 43
Ipswich Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins had nothing but praise for his side despite them losing out in a last-heat decider at Belle Vue in the Premiership and in front of the BT Sport cameras.
The Suffolk side went behind for the first time in heat 13 after a good start to the meeting, and although they levelled it up one race later, the home duo of Max Fricke and Kenneth Bjerre notched an Aces 5-1 in the final race as the Manchester side ran out 47-43 winners.
The losing bonus point the Witches gained takes the up to second in the table.
"Obviously we are all disappointed to lose out in the last heat, but the boys have given me and the team everything tonight," Hawkins said.
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"This is a very tough place to come but we have done better than most have here this season.
"If that were a first leg play-off meeting and we'd lost by just four, we'd be happy with that. All seven have scored valuable points.
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"I think Ipswich fans just want to see their riders giving everything for the club and these boys are doing it. The town should feel proud with the efforts they are putting in."
The Witches got off to a super start with Danny King gating to the front off gate one and Richard Lawson tucking in and holding off Fricke for a Witches 5-1.
Cameron Heeps made a good gate in the next and shot to the front. For a second it looked as though his partner Jake Allen was with him, but Ricky Wells split the Witches pairing.
David Bellego almost pipped the fast-starting Steve Worrall in a shared heat three. But the Aces shot from the tapes in heat four to pull four points back.
It was three abreast into turn three with King the meat in the Aces sandwich in heat five. But King held his nerve to split the Aces and Lawson passed Dan Bewley.
The Aces drew level in heat six as they produced their fourth heat winner on the spin, but the Witches stopped that rot and in style with Chris Harris gating round Kenneth Bjerre.
Bellego got into second for a while but Bjerre re-passed as the Witches led 22-20.
It was all level again with Aces young reserve Jamie Lidsey beating King, with Heeps at the back. And it remained all level as Allen did well off gate four to get second place in another drawn race.
It was another cracking heat in race 10 with the Berge gating, but Harris and Fricke dicing and both got past, as did Bellego. Harris was leading as Fricke dived underneath him on turn two and the pair clashed as they went down the back straight with both riders crashing.
It could have been nasty, but both got up - Fricke was excluded.
In the re-run Bellego got away well, as Berge split the Witches duo. Ipswich were back in the lead and Bjerre won the next as the Witches remained ahead with four to go. A drawn heat 12 saw the Aces win their eighth heat but Ipswich remained ahead.
The Aces took the lead for the first time in the meeting one race later, Bjerre superbly passing Lawson on lap two.
Bellego rode a storming heat 14, with Allen in third as the meeting tied up at 42-42. But it was the Aces who took the win with that last race 5-1.
Belle Vue: M Fricke 10, D Berge 4, D Bewley 3, S Worrall 9, K Bejrre 12+2, R Wells 2, J Lidsey 7+1
Ipswich: R Lawson 5+3, D King 9, C Harris 7+1, D Bellego 10, K Pieszczek 4+1, C Heeps 4+1, J Allen 4
1 King, Lawson, Fricke, Berge 1-5
2 Heeps, Wells, Allen, Lidsey 3-9
3 Worrall, Bellego, Harris, Bewley 6-12
4 Bjerre, Lidsey, Pieszczek, Allen 11-13
5 Worrall, King, Lawson, Bewley 14-16
6 Fricke, Pieszczek, Berge, Heeps 18-18
7 Harris, Bjerre, Bellego, Wells 20-22
8 Lidsey, King, Berge, Heeps 24-24
9 Worrall, Allen, Pieszczek, Bewley (ret) 27-27
10 Bellego, Berge, Harris, Fricke (ex) 29-31
11 Bjerre, King, Lawson, Wells 32-34
12 Bewley, Harris, Heeps, Lidsey 35-37
13 Fricke, Bjerre, Lawson, Pieszczek 40-38
14 Bellego, Lidsey, Allen, Worrall 42-42
15 Fricke, Bjerre, Bellego, King 47-43
Belle Vue 3 pts. Ipswich 1 pt