Witches draw in thrilling contest

Coventry 45 Ipswich 45IPSWICH were held to a draw in a thrilling contest at Coventry yesterday which culminated in one of the best Heat 15s of the season.

Coventry 45 Ipswich 45

IPSWICH were held to a draw in a thrilling contest at Coventry yesterday which culminated in one of the best Heat 15s of the season.

Witches took a two-point lead into the race after leading for much of the contest, with hopes pinned on Polish duo Jarek Hampel and Piotr Swiderski.

Bees skipper Chris Harris forced his way to the front but the Witches held a 3-3 position early on, only for Hans Andersen to move past Swiderski into third place.

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Hampel then threw everything at Harris whilst having to resist Andersen for the remainder of the race, and the 4-2 gave the home side a draw after they had been chasing the match all afternoon.

Coventry's preparations were disrupted by injuries sustained on Friday, especially to Simon Stead, whilst their No.8 Ben Barker was ferried to Brandon from his earlier meeting at Rye House and arrived at the stadium whilst already on two-minutes for Heat 2.

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Witches took full advantage of the Bees' early confusion with back-to-back 5-1s, including some fine team riding from Hampel and Robert Miskowiak over Harris in Heat 3 - and a tapes-to-flag win from Chris Schramm in the previous race as Steve Johnston fought his way into second place.

But Rory Schlein was on the receiving end of 5-1s in each of his first two rides on his old home circuit, both times at the hands of Czech newcomer Filip Sitera, and the Witches lost a 5-1 of their own in Heat 7 when Miskowiak seized an engine on the last lap.

Harris re-passed Schlein on the second lap of Heat 9 to bring the Bees level after the Australian had initially gone from third to first, and when Miskowiak crashed on the third bend in Heat 10, the home side had gone in front for the first time.

Ipswich hit back with Tobi Kroner riding well to win Heat 11, and Hampel then defied Harris throughout Heat 12 with Johnston hanging on to a match-levelling third ahead of Sitera.

Andersen made a firm blocking move on Schlein in Heat 13 as mechanical trouble hit the Bees' Olly Allen on this occasion, and the Witches went in front again in Heat 14 as Miskowiak completed an up-and-down day with a win, and a full-value Chris Schramm collected third.

It gave the Witches a lead to defend going into the last race, but there weren't too many supporters claiming that a draw wasn't a fair result after the terrific four laps of Heat 15 with Hampel so close to rounding Harris on two occasions - but Andersen thrusting throughout to make his way through on the inside and eventually settling for a point.

Coventry: Hans Andersen 13, Simon Stead r/r, Chris Harris 11, Billy Janniro 4, Olly Allen 10, Ben Barker 2+2, Filip Sitera 5+2, Josh Auty 0.

Ipswich: Piotr Swiderski 6+1, Tobias Kroner 6+2, Jarek Hampel 13, Robert Miskowiak 5+1, Rory Schlein 5, Steve Johnston 4+1, Chris Schramm 6.

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