Speedway play-offs: Witches v Pirates.... All you need to know....
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Tonight: Ipswich Witches v Poole Pirates, Premiership semi-final, second leg preview
WHEN AND WHERE…
The 'Tru Plant' Witches host the Poole Pirates at Foxhall Stadium tonight in a Premiership Play-Off semi-final clash that starts at 7.30pm.
IPSWICH: 1. Niels-Kristian Iversen 7.38 2. Cameron Heeps 6.57 3. Chris Harris 6.16 4. Richard Lawson 6.57 5. Danny King 7.06 © 6. James Sarjeant 3.26 7. Jake Allen 5.84. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
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POOLE: 1. Brady Kurtz 7.39 2. Nico Covatti 4.80 3. Nicolai Klindt 7.18 4. Josh Grajczonek 6.97 © 5. Jack Holder 7.28 6. Tomas H Jonasson 4.64 7. Ricky Wells 4.39. Team Manager: Neil Middleditch
REFEREE: C. Gay
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VENUE: Foxhall Stadium
PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF FIXTURES
Poole 50-40 Ipswich (1st Leg), Ipswich v Poole (2nd Leg - Sep 28)
Wolverhampton v Swindon (1st Leg - Sep 30), Swindon v Wolverhampton (2nd Leg - Oct 3)
Tickets are available on the gate and are priced at £18 for adults, £16 for concessions (60+), £5 for students (16-17). Children 15 and under go free. Official programmes are priced at £3 and are available at the stadium. Car parking is free for all supporters. Debit and credit card payments are accepted. Season tickets are not valid for this meeting although holders will still be able to purchase their tickets at the Season Ticket gate.
WHAT'S THE STORY?
The 'Tru Plant' Witches host the Poole Pirates at Foxhall Stadium tonight on a big night for the club in the Premiership Play-Off semi-final second leg. Ipswich returned to the top flight of British speedway in 2019 after eight seasons of second tier racing and have qualified for the end of season shootout at the first time of asking. Many pundits and fans predicted a struggle for the Suffolk side on their return, but the club started the season in fine fashion and despite a blip in form and team changes being made towards the end of the season, they secured their spot in the play-offs having been in the top four all season. Making the play-offs has surpassed many people's expectations but the management and riders are determined to go all the way this year and lift the title for the first time since 1998.
Tonight, they take on the Poole Pirates needing to overturn 10 points to progress to the final. The two sides met in Dorset on Thursday night and the Witches raced into a 12-point lead, but the hosts rallied and produced a fantastic comeback to win 50-40 and give them the advantage heading into the second leg in Suffolk. Ipswich are at full strength for the big meeting and know they need everyone to perform on the night as they look to progress to the final.
FROM THE MANAGER…
Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to tonight's clash…
"We have got an opportunity to make the play-off final in our first year back in the top flight. We need to win by 11 or more and we are starting off behind, but we need to fight for the 15 heats and make sure by the end we are in front. I have full belief that we are capable of doing it and hopefully the public turn up in their numbers and be that extra man for us. On Saturday night it will be clear to the boys what it means to everybody.
"We have 15 heats to pull it back and whatever happens we will have to race with 100% commitment and determination. We need to fight like we have done all season on many occasions to get a result. That is what we will have to do on Saturday, and everyone needs to step up to the plate.
"I am sure everyone will come and support us on Saturday night like they have done all season. I spoke on BT Sport on Monday night about what a massive fanbase we have in the town. We have brilliant track staff, sponsors and everyone will be right behind us on Saturday. I want to bring a title back for them and this will be our third play-off campaign in four years. We have a shot of a final and we are still right in it. Let's get behind each other and make it happen."
THE PIRATES …
Poole are often the team to beat and 2019 has been no different. So many are used to seeing the Pirates top the table and win titles and therefore not many were surprised to see them top this season's Premiership table despite big pressure from Swindon late on. The Dorset club are experienced, they are well-versed in handling pressure and they continue to put strong sides together year after year as Neil Middleditch manages to maintain that winning mentality, whoever is wearing a Poole race jacket.
They bring a 10-point lead to Foxhall after their remarkable comeback in Dorset on Thursday night and will be confident of progressing to the final, having already beaten the Witches twice at Foxhall in the league. However, Ipswich did record a 14-point win over the Pirates in the Supporters Cup this season and it shows this tie is far from over.
Brady Kurtz and Nicolai Klindt were in sublime form on their last visit to Foxhall and with Jack Holder, Josh Grajczonek and former Witch Nico Covatti backing him up, the tough task of beating the Pirates is there for everyone to see. There is no stand-out weakness to this Poole side but the battle at reserve could be key.