‘The boys performed under immense pressure’... Hawkins heaps praise on Witches as play-offs assured
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 48 Swindon Robins 42
Ipswich Witches produced their best home performance of the season at just the right time to reach the play-offs as Swindon Robins were beaten at Foxhall Stadium.
The Suffolk side's victory means they cannot be overtaken by Belle Vue or King's Lynn and a top four place is assured.
It's nothing more than Ritchie Hawkins' team deserve after a terrific season.
"It was a massive improvement from the boys under immense pressure tonight as a must win and we stepped up," Hawkins said
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"I'm really happy now and look forward to the play-offs. We have got one meeting left at Poole to gel this new team, and come back here now in the play-offs."
From the off the Witches were on it, Niels-Kristian Iversen and Cameron Heeps hammering home a 5-1 in the opening race, Iversen breaking the track record.
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And the wins just kept on coming for a Witches side who looked a completely different animal to the one beaten here by the Robins and Poole in recent weeks.
Heroes for the Witches were like looking for trees in a wood and how the crowd loved it.
The aggression from the starts and general gating that had been missing the last month or so, was back in no uncertain terms and how the big crowd loved it.
It was a great start by the Witches as Heeps and Iversen shot to the front in heat one, Heeps doing well to keep former world champion Jason Doyle in third. Ellis Perks held off the attentions of Jake Allen in the next as the Robins got their first chequered flag. Chris Harris and Richard Lawson were away well in heat three, but Rasmus Jensen got past Lawson who then suffered a puncture on the final lap, gifting third to the Robins.
Allen flew from the start in the next leaving Troy Batchelor in his wake as the Witches picked up another heat advantage. Heat five was a corker. Harris gated third as Doyle and Adam Ellis led. But Harris roared round the outside of Ellis before passing Doyle a lap later.
Batchelor won the next as Danny King made a great start off gate two to win heat seven, with James Sarjeant battling into third as the Witches stretched their lead to six.
Heeps and Allen hit the first turn ahead in heat eight, but Ellis roared past Allen, although he couldn't catch Heeps.
The Robins hit back in heat nine after Lawson, who was having a poor night up to now, and Harris got into a mess on the opening turns and the Robins were away for a 1-5.
The home side led by four now but the Witches then hit two 5-1 maximums in the next two races to put themselves in the driving seat, as the Foxhall crowd went wild.
Straight after the interval the Robins hit back with a 5-1 of their own as the meeting boiled up to heat 13.
Iversen and King kept Batchelor before Sarjeant made a great start from the inside to split the Robins in heat 14.
The Witches throughly deserved this victory and more's the point showed what they are capable of.
Ipswich: NK Iversen 11+2, C Heeps 9+2, C Harris 7, R Lawson 0, D King 9, J Sarjeant 3, J Allen 9+1
Swindon: J Doyle 9, A Ellis 3+1, R Jensen 4+1, T Musielak 6, T Batchelor 12+1, E Perks 7+2, C Vissing 1.
1 Iversen**, Heeps, Doyle, Ellis 55.4 5-1
2 Perks, Allen, Vissing, Sarjeant 56.5 7-5
3 Harris, Jensen, Musielak, Lawson 55.9 10-8
4 Allen, Batchelor, King, Vissing 56.4 14-10
5 Harris, Doyle, Ellis, Lawson 56.7 17-13
6 Batchelor, Heeps, Iversen, Perks 56.6 20-16
7 King, Musielak, Sarjeant, Jensen 56.4 24-18
8 Heeps, Ellis, Allen, Vissing 57.0 28-20
9 Batchelor, Perks, Harris, Lawson 57.0 29-25
10 Iversen, Heeps, Musielak, Jensen 57.5 34-26
11 King, Allen, Doyle, Ellis 57.8 39-27
12 Jensen, Perks, Allen, Harris 57.8 40-32
13 Doyle, King, Iversen, Batchelor 57.4 43-35
14 Batchelor, Sarjeant, Musielak, Allen 57.5 45-39
15 Iversen, Batchelor, Doyle, King 57.3 48-42
Ipswich 3 pts. Swindon 1 pts.
Top 4 in play-offs
Swindon 22 43
Poole 21 42
Wolves 23 42
Ipswich 23 42
Belle Vue 24 41
King's Lynn 21 31
Peterborough 22 17