Grand Prix star Iversen makes his Ipswich Witches debut against Poole at Foxhall
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
WHEN AND WHERE… The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches host the Poole Pirates at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday night in a Premiership clash that starts at 7.30pm.
IPSWICH: 1. Niels-Kristian Iversen 7.38 2. R/R for Cameron Heeps 6.26 3. Chris Harris 6.83 4. Richard Lawson 6.75 5. Danny King 6.42 © 6. James Sarjeant 3.00 7. Jake Allen 5.80. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
POOLE: 1. Jack Holder 7.63 2. Nico Covatti 4.95 3. Nicolai Klindt 7.37 4. Josh Grajczonek 6.95 © 5. Brady Kurtz 7.29 6. Thomas H Jonasson 4.64 7. Ricky Wells 4.20 Team Manager: Neil Middleditch
REFEREE: B. Horley
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Swindon 20 39
Poole 19 39
Ipswich 21 39
Belle Vue 23 38
Wolverhampton 21 35
King's Lynn 20 31
Peterborough 20 17
WHAT'S THE STORY?
The 'Tru Plant' Witches race their penultimate home fixture of the regular league season on Thursday when they take on Poole at Foxhall. Ipswich were in action on Monday against Swindon as they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season at the Abbey, going down 66-24. Soon after the meeting, the management made team changes bringing in Grand Prix star Niels-Kristian Iversen and James Sarjeant to replace Krystian Pieszczek and Edward Kennett and the pair will go straight into the team for Thursday's clash. The hosts know they will need to perform better than when the Pirates were last in town as Poole raced to a 48-42 victory with a depleted side. If the Suffolk side can register a win in this one, then the play-offs will be within touching distance.
Iversen comes straight into the team at number one, making his debut for the club. The Dane is currently eleventh in the Grand Prix series and has multiple Danish titles to his name as well as World Cup gold medals. It is a signing that is likely to excite the Foxhall faithful and he will be expected to give the Witches more muscle at the top end of the side. Sarjeant makes his return to Suffolk having spent 2016 and a part of 2017 with the club. He goes in at reserve to partner Jake Allen at the bottom end of the team. Rider replacement will be used for the injured Cameron Heeps after the Australian was involved in a heavy crash at Edinburgh last Friday where he suffered chest injuries and internal bruising. It's crunch time now with a spot in the play-offs on the line and the Witches are almost there. It will be a stern test for the home team but with their supporters behind them and two new signings, they will be going for a victory that could prove decisive.
FROM THE MANAGER…
'Tru Plant' Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to Thursday's clash…
"We need to win on Thursday to make the play-offs. We need to show that the team changes were the right thing to do and get back firing, winning races and enjoying ourselves again. We need to show everyone we are serious about trying to win the title.
"I would expect Niels with his experience to hit the ground running. He might need to try a couple of things but with his experience and how good he is, you would expect him to hit the ground running. James has ridden for us before and knows the place well and everyone will get behind him and help him. I am sure he will settle back in quickly.
"It is the first meeting for this team. Rider replacement is tough with only Danny and the reserves taking the rides and there is a big emphasis on everyone to pull their weight and ride to their ability or we could be in for another long night. Doing what we have done, we are very serious about winning and we need to perform straight away."
Reigning champions Poole have had the most comfortable season of all the teams in the division despite suffering several injury blows. The Pirates started the season well and never looked back and have once again been the team to beat. The Dorset side are level at the top the table with a meeting in hand and are firm favourites to finish top and have first pick of opponents in the play-offs. They were in action on Monday and were comfortably beaten at Wolves.
The Pirates' injury problems have improved of late with Brady Kurtz back riding again at number five and when at his best, he is one of the best riders in the division. Nico Covatti is a man the hosts will be wary of, the former Witch guested for Ipswich two weeks ago and top scored. Former Swedish champion Thomas H Jonasson has been signed to replace the injured Richie Worrall and he is at reserve. The visitors come into this one with no pressure on their shoulders, knowing that they have won at Foxhall previously. Another good result in Suffolk and the Pirates could well be picking the Witches in the play-offs, should both teams get there.
AROUND THE TRACKS…
On Monday, Belle Vue convincingly beat King's Lynn 54-36 at the National Speedway Stadium whilst Wolverhampton were comfortable 55-35 winners over Poole at Monmore Green. Swindon thrashed Ipswich 66-24 at the Abbey Stadium.