Witches play-off hopes are over after defeat at Somerset – now attention turns to Edinburgh and the KO Cup final
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches’ hopes of a play-off grand final were left in tatters despite a battling display at Somerset on Friday night.
The visitors had to cope with the loss of American Gino Manzares after the youngster only completed one lap, before crashing out of the meeting in heat three.
It would have been enough to finish off most clubs at the fast Oak Tree Arena, but the Witches stuck to their task manfully
Despite the poor start to the meeting the visitors took the lead after heat six and were still only two points behind after heat nine.
But Somerset re-grouped and it is now they who will meet Edinburgh in the two-legged play-off grand final, while the Witches will be left to try and win silverware by holding aloft the KO Cup – they race Edinburgh in the final of that.
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The Witches got off to the worse possible start as Olly Allen and Charles Wright gated to a 5-1 maximum.
But they quickly regrouped and got a bit of good fortune as Paul Starke suffered a puncture when in third place in heat two.
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Manzares suffered his big fall in heat three as the Rebels went eight points ahead and there was little to suggest the Witches were going to stage such any sort of comeback.
However, it was the youngest member of the Witches team that shook his side out of their slumbers, Adam Ellis gating to the front in heat four with Richie Worrall.
Nick Morris passed Worrall on the final bend, but the Witches had won their first race of the night and they gained confidence from it.
Pontus Aspgren fell on the first lap of heat five and Rohan Tungate and Cameron Heeps gated to a 5-1 maximum.
Manzares had withdrawn from the meeting at this point but Worrall and skipper Richie Hawkins shook the home fans to the core with another maximum 5-1 as the visitors, from eight points down, took the lead.
Morris went through the tapes in heat eight, but Starke saved his and the Rebels’ bacon with a win. However it was the Witches who still led by two.
Aspgren was now ruled out of the meeting for the home side, but the Rebels hit back in heat eight as Morris passed Heeps on the line.
Worrall won the next and then the Rebels put some daylight between themselves and the Witches with another 5-1 maximum.
It was nip and tuck but the Witches seemed to have lost their momentum and Tungate and Heeps were again left to follow Morris and the impressive Kurtz home in heat 11.
It put the Witches 10 behind and Risager came out in heat 11 on a tactical ride. But Hawkins crashed on turn three and was excluded.
In the re-run Risager could make no impression on the Rebels pair and the Witches were left starring at defeat.
Tungate hit the front at the start of heat 13, but was passed by both Rebels, the home side now with their tails up and one foot firmly planted in the final.
Hawkins won heat 14 as the Witches continued to battle to the end. But it wasn’t to be and now the Witches will hope they can re-group for the KO cup final ahead.
This week sees the Witches entertain Edinburgh at Foxhall on Thursday night in the KO Cup final, with the second leg in Scotland the next night.
Final Group B table
Somerset 4 7
Ipswich 4 6
Scunthorpe 4 5
1 Allen, Wright, Tungate, Heeps 57.0 5-1
2 Kurtz, Hawkins, Ellis, Starke 57.6 8-4
3 Wright, Aspgren, Risager, Manzares (f/x) 57.7 13-5
4 Ellis, Morris, Worrall, Starke 58.1 15-9
5 Tungate, Heeps, Wright, Aspgren (f/x) 58.1 16-14
6 Worrall, Hawkins, Allen, Kurtz 58.6 17-19
7 Starke, Risager, Ellis, Morris (15m) 58.0 20-22
8 Kurtz, Morris, Heeps, Hawkins, Ellis (ex) 58.0 25-23
9 Worrall, Wright, Starke, Ellis 58.1 28-26
10 Allen, Kurtz, Hawkins, Risager 58.0 33-27
11 Morris, Kurtz, Tungate, Heeps 58.4 38-28
12 Kurtz, Wright, Risager*, Hawkins (f/x) 58.9 43-29
13 Allen, Morris, Tungate, Worrall 58.4 48-30
14 Hawkins, Starke, Ellis, Kurtz 58.7 50-34
15 Allen, Worrall, Morris, Ellis 58.1 54-36
*tac ride pts double. Somerset 3pts. Ipswich 0 pts
Somerset: O Allen 13, R/R, C Wright 10+2, P Aspgren 2+1, N Morris 10+1, T Kurtz 13+2, P Starke 6+1
Ipswich: R Tungate 6, C Heeps 3+1, M Risager 4+1, G Manzares 0, R Worrall 9, R Hawkins 8+1, A Ellis 6+2