SENSATIONAL Witches reach Premiership play-off final
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Witches 54 Poole Pirates 36 Agg: 94-86 to Ipswich
Ipswich Witches are through to the Premiership play-off final after a sensational night of speedway at Foxhall Stadium.
The Witches pulled back the 10 point deficit they faced after the first leg in Poole on Thursday, after a meeting that ebbed and flowed, Richard Lawson and James Sarjeant sealing the deal in heat 14 for the home side.
The Witches will race Swindon or Wolves in the final.
It was a stunning performance by Ritchie Hawkins' side who never gave up even as Poole continued to hit back even after Ipswich took an early lead.
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It was a fantastic night for the club and their fans who can now look forward to the biggest domestic final in British speedway to come.
The home side were quickly ahead and continued to hit Poole hard, but every time they did so, Poole hit back.
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The first 10 heats were all 5-1s... six to Ipswich and four to Poole, an unprecedented set of heat results.
But it was in heat 14 Ipswich won the meeting and the fans went crazy.
"I'm so proud of the boys, I can't tell you," Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins said.
"That summed our season up so far tonight. We just never know when we are beaten. I think we've done more than enough this season to be in the final.
"It was a tense meeting and we knew Poole would never give up. But every one of our riders came to the party, every one of them. I'm so proud.
"And as for our fans. Well, there were unbelievable. A big crowd, the atmosphere was electric. I can't thank them enough."
Covatti led heat one after flying up the inside of Niels Kristian-Iversen down the back straight. But his bike packed up on the second lap as the Witches roared into first and second - just the start the home side wanted.
Things got even better in the next when Jake Allen gated and James Sarjeant joined his partner at the front after passing Tomas Jonasson. It was a sensational start for the Witches and the crowd were already loving it.
But the crowd were silenced in the next as Nicolai Klindt and Josh Grajczonek gated to the front in heat three as the Pirates showed just how tough they were going to be to crack.
Yet it was the Witches who were on it, Danny King and Allen again sharp from the tapes for the Witches third 5-1 in the opening four races.
Poole hit back with a maximum of their own as the 5-1s continued, but in what was becoming an almost ridiculous start to the meeting, it was Ipswich who hit back once more, Iversen gating and Cameron Heeps roaring around the outside of the Poole pairing, as Jack Holder slid off on the last lap.
It was seven maximums on the bounce in the next as the strong Klindt/Grajczonek pairing again gated to victory.
The Foxhall crowd didn't know what to make of it all, one minute getting exciting only to have the stuffing knocked out of them a race later.
But they were on their feet in heat eight.
Heeps gated with Allen, but Covatti passed Heeps, before the young Aussie roared around the outside of the Italian on the last lap as the crowd's emotions again went through the roof.
There was a blow for Poole as Holder withdrew from the meeting.
The Witches took the lead on aggregate in the next race, Lawson gated and Harris chased after Klindt, passing him, before the Dane returned the favour.
But Harris was having none of it, passing Klindt a lap later. This was incredible stuff and it just kept coming, Grajczonek and Klindt again gating to a maximum.
Now Poole led by two. But at last, after 10 races, the 5-1 maximums were broken as King and Allen gained a 4-2 and with it tied the scores up on aggregate.
Harris passed Wells, who fell on the last lap as the scores stayed level.
Iversen and King brought Foxhall to their feet once more as Ipswich netted another 5-1, their seventh of the night. And Ipswich led by four on aggregate with two races to go.
And the deal was sealed in heat 14, Lawson passing Grajczonek and Sarjeant bravely passing Wells as the fans went crazy.
It saw fans dancing on the terraces and the season at Foxhall is set to come to the biggest of climaxes.
Ipswich D King 12, J Allen 11+1, N Iversen 9+1, R Lawson 8, C Heeps 7+3, J Sarjeant 4+1, C Harris 3+2.
Poole: N Klindt 12+1, J Grajczonek 8+2, N Covatti 8, B Kurtz 3+1, R Wells 2, T Jonasson 1, J Holder 0
1 Iversen, Heeps, Kurtz, Covatti (e/f) 55.9 5-1
2 Allen, Sarjeant, Wells, Jonasson 57.4 10-2
3 Klindt, Grajczonek, Lawson, Harris 56.9 11-7
4 King, Allen, Wells, Holder 56.8 16-8
5 Covatti, Kurtz, Lawson, Harris 56.8 17-13
6 Iversen, Heeps, Jonasson, Holder (f) no time 22-14
7 Grajczonek, Klindt, Sarjeant, King 57.7 23-19
8 Heeps, Allen, Covatti, Wells 57.5 28-20
9 Lawson, Harris, Klindt, Jonasson 57.8 33-21
10 Klindt, Grajczonek, Heeps, Iversen 57.8 34-26
11 King, Covatti, Allen, Kurtz 57.1 38-28
12 Klindt, Allen, Harris, Wells (f) no time 41-31
13 King, Iversen, Grajczonek, Kurtz 57.5 46-32
14 Lawson, Grajczonek, Sarjeant, Wells 57.9 50-34
15 King, Covatti, Iversen, Klindt (e/f) 57.9 54-36
Aggregate: Ipswich 94 Poole 86