Witches show their mettle but Heeps suffers injury
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches picked up their first Premier League point of the season after a battling effort at Newcastle on Sunday.
Thirteen points down with just three heats to go, the Foxhall team never gave up and a strong finish grabbed them a deserved point.
It was the culmination of a tough, but not unsuccessful weekend for the Witches, although the club have been rocked with the news that Cameron Heeps has broken his wrist in a fall at Berwick on Saturday.
“It’s a big blow for Cameron and us,” said Witches team boss Phil Hilton.
“It is the wrist he didn’t damage a few years ago, and it left us with a lot to do today.
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“But after an awful start the boys really stuck at it. We asked for character after the Sheffield defeats and they showed it.
“Nico Covatti, who has never seen the place rode out of his skin and Danny King came great at the end after a retirement and exclusion.
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“But all the boys did well over the two nights.”
Witches director Chris Louis said: “The boys showed their mettle. We are not quite there yet, but this was much better. We will find out more about Cam on Monday. But his wrist is broken.”
The Witches had the most awful of starts last night.
Leigh Lanham, who answered Louis’ call as a guest to replace Heeps piled into the fence in heat one.
He was excluded and partner King followed suit when he crashed into Diamonds’ No.1 Lewis Kerr.
The Witches were dealt a cruel blow in heat two as Stefan Nielsen suffered carburettor problems yards from the line, when on a 5-1 with skipper Ritchie Hawkins.
The battling Lanham passed Steve Worrall in the next but Ludvig Lindgren got the better of Hawkins in heat four and by heat five the Diamonds were nine ahead.
Tungate rode a corker in heat six to pass Kerr and the Witches got their first race advantage. And when Covatti won the next the Witches had some momentum.
But Steve Worrall put paid to that with back-to-back wins, the second a 5-1 maximum over Tungate in heat nine. Covatti was on a tactical ride in heat 10 but it was Henry who stole the show with victory.
When King retired in heat 11 while second, it seemed like it was game over for the Suffolk side.
However, King and Tungate pulled a 5-1 back after Kerr was excluded in heat 13 and when Henry fell when in third place in heat 14, the Witches had the chance to take a point from the meeting.
And they grabbed the chance, Covatti taking advantage of Worrall’s slip on the last lap to send the Witches back down the A1 with something to show for their efforts.
1 Kerr, Si Nielsen, Lanham (ex), King (ex) 66.4 5-0
2 Hawkins, Rose, Si Nielsen, St Nielsen (e/f) 66.5 8-3
3 Henry, Lanham, Worrall, Covatti 64.1 12-5
4 Lindgren, Tungate, Hawkins, Rose 64.6 15-8
5 Worrall, King, Henry, Lanham 64.0 19-10
6 Tungate, Kerr, St Nielsen, Si Nielsen 65.1 21-14
7 Covatti, Rose, Lindgren, Hawkins 65.2 24-17
8 Worrall, Lanham, Hawkins, Si Nielsen (f/x) 66.0 27-20
9 Worrall, Henry, Tungate, St Nielsen 64.9 32-21
10 Henry, Covatti*, Tungate, Kerr 65.0 35-26
11 Lindgren, Lanham, Si Nielsen, King (ret) 65.1 39-28
12 Worrall, Covatti, Rose, Hawkins 65.8 43-30
13 King, Tungate, Lindgren, Kerr (f/x) 64.1 44-35
14 Covatti, Rose, St Nielsen, Henry (f) 65.0 46-39
15 King, Lindgren, Covatti, Worrall 64.9 48-43
*tac ride pts count double. Newcastle 3pts. Ipswich 1
Newcastle: L Kerr 5, R/R, S Worrall 13, C Henry 9+1, L Lindgren 10, Simon Nielsen 5+1, L Rose 6+1
Ipswich: D King 8, L Lanham 6, N Covatti 13, R/R, R Tungate 9+2, Stefan Nielsen 2, R Hawkins 5+2.