Witches make Bears grizzly after last-heat drama

Nico Covatti, in good form again for the Witches last night

Nico Covatti, in good form again for the Witches last night - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Redcar Bears 44 Ipswich Witches 46

Ipswich Witches got their Premier League campaign well and truly up and running with a last-heat victory at Redcar Bears last night.

Trailing by six points with just three heats to go, Phil Hilton’s side staged a tremendous fightback with Danny King and Nico Covatti grabbing a last heat 4-2 to seal a dramatic victory.

“I had a few choice words with the boys at the break,” Hilton said.

“I don’t want to have to do that, but they responded superbly. We’ve gone from six points down to two points up in the space of three races. I’m pleased and I don’t want to sound a grumpy old man, but I had hoped we might win by more than six and get all four points here tonight, not just the three we did get.

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“In saying that, at the break, I would have taken a draw!”

The Witches entertain Redcar in the return at Foxhall Stadium tomorrow in a rare Saturday night home fixture and if they can repeat this result then they will move steadily up the Premier League table.

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King was away like a rocket to win the first race and skipper Ritchie Hawkins picked himself up off the deck in the first running of heat two, to partner home team-mate Stefan Nielsen for a Witches 5-1.

Gino Manzares was another Witch to hit the deck, this time in heat three and was excluded.

Bears’ reserve Ben Morley surprised everyone with a fine first turn to win heat four to level things up. It remained nip and tuck with the Witches making the most of Jan Graversen’s mistake in heat six to share the spoils.

After a bright start with two early heat wins, the Witches were finding it hard to take the chequered flag and Redcar’s Stuart Robson darted between both Witches to make it five different Redcar winners in the first seven heats.

Covatti did well to pass Rafal Konopka in the same exciting race – as the scores remained level.

Incredibly five different home winners became six in the next as Graversen claimed the chequered flag, with Manzares passing Morley on lap two. But the home side broke the deadlock and took the lead for the first time in heat nine as Matej Kus and Adam Roynon got a maximum over Rohan Tungate.

The Witches had it all to do now and they slipped further behind as the home team stretched their lead to six in a cracking heat 10.

Both Bears gated but Tungate and Covatti passed Graversen, before Graversen got Tungate on the line.

King won the Witches third race of the night in heat 11 before Morley and Nielsen clashed twice in heat 12, with both riders on the deck.

At the third time of asking and after Hawkins had replaced Nielsen, it was another shared heat. King won his third race of the night as the Witches cut the home lead to four.

And then the Witches made their stunning comeback, captain Hawkins and Covatti gating to a 5-1 in heat 14 as the visitors drew level.

King showed his class to collect his fourth heat win in the deciding race and Covatti held off the attentions of Kus as the Witches fans in the crowd rejoiced.

1 King, Bjerre, Graversen, Manzares 54.2 3-3

2 Hawkins, Nielsen, Konopka, Morley 55.4 4-8

3 Roynon, Covatti, Kus, Manzares (f/x) 55.0 8-10

4 Morley, Tungate, Robson, Hawkins 55.9 12-12

5 Kus, King, Manzares, Roynon 54.6 15-15

6 Bjerre, Nielsen, Tungate, Graversen 55.6 18-18

7 Robson, Nielsen, Covatti, Konopka 55.2 21-21

8 Graversen, Hawkins, Manzares, Morley 55.8 24-24

9 Kus, Roynon, Tungate, Nielsen (e/f) 55.6 29-25

10 Bjerre, Covatti, Graversen, Tungate 55.9 33-27

11 King, Robson, Konopka, Manzares 55.2 36-30

12 Kus, Covatti, Hawkins, Morley 56.1 39-33

13 King, Bjerre, Tungate, Robson 55.8 41-37

14 Hawkins, Covatti, Roynon, Konopka (f) 56.3 42-42

15 King, Bjerre, Covatti, Kus 56.1 44-46

Redcar 0pts. Ipswich 3pts.

Redcar: L Bjerre 12, J Graversen 5+1, M Kus 10, A Roynon 6+1, S Robson 6, R Konopka 2+1, B Morley 3

Ipswich: D King 14, G Manzares 2+2, N Covatti 10+3, R/R, R Tungate 5+1, S Nielsen 6+1, R Hawkins 9+1

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