Witches show true grit as they battle back from six points down to be the first team to take a point off high-flying Monarchs

Gino Manzares

Gino Manzares - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches 45 Edinburgh Monarchs 45

Ipswich Witches produced a gritty and determined display as they became the first side to take a point off Edinburgh Monarchs in 2014 at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday night.

Despite trailing by six points early on, the Witches dug deep, showed their character and gained a deserved draw as Richie Worrall and Rohan Tungate raced to a last heat 4-2 over Premier League hot-shot Craig Cook.

The draw was a fitting result in an absorbing contest that seemed to be heading Edinburgh’s way, before the Witches, led by Morten Risager and Gino Manzares, came fighting back.

Edinburgh got just the start they would have been looking for as Cook and Justin Sedgmen sped from the start to gain a first race 5-1 maximum.

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The weather was drizzly but the track, which was under water 48 hours before start time, was in great nick from the off.

Steve Worrall was an easy victor in heat two and the Witches got their first race winner in the next when Risager rode a stormer of a first lap to pass Max Fricke.

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But it was the Monarchs who held an early four-point lead and that stretched to six after Steve Worrall passed the fast-starting Tungate on the third lap.

Risager was making electric starts and he held Cook off in thrilling fashion in heat five, but with Cameron Heeps at the back, the Witches were making no impression on the Scottish side.

Sam Masters was away in heat six for the Monarchs, but Aaron Fox took a tumble at the back and was excluded.

Manzares took the chance to get three points in the re-run and the Witches got their first heat advantage, although it was the visitors who still led by four.

Tungate won from the tapes in the next, but Adam Ellis got himself in a right pickle on turns one and two on lap two and did well to stay on his bike. At last the Witches made the start – in heat eight – with Ritchie Hawkins and Manzares away. Sedgmen came thundering under Manzares going into turn three and Manzares went flying into the fence.

Sedgmen was excluded and Manzares jetted from the gate to win his second race of the night. With Hawkins third, the Witches were now just a couple of points behind at 23-25. The Witches, through the inspired Risager, and Heeps, looked to be on course to take the lead as the pair shot to the front at the start of heat nine. But Heeps got out of shape on the final lap and dropped to third. It was all square now and the Witches were showing real character.

Then they took the lead through the flying Manzares and Richie Worrall. The crowd were loving the effort their side were putting in.

But the Monarchs were not done and they hit back in heat 11 with their first heat advantage since heat four.

The Witches were still two ahead but Risager was taken high, wide and not so handsome by Steve Worrall as Fricke nipped through and now it was the visitors ahead again.

Richie Worrall made a tough move on Masters on turn three of heat 13 with the Witches on the end of a 5-1 at the time. Masters fell and in the re-run, without the Edinburgh man, Tungate and Richie Worrall rode four pulsating laps keeping Cook at the back.

It was a thriller of a race and the Witches were back in front at 40-38. But again the meeting see-sawed as the Monarchs hit straight back with a 5-1 of their own to go into the final race two points ahead.

Richie Worrall won the final heat ahead of Cook, with Tungate tucking into third as the scores finished level – a fitting result.

1 Cook, Sedgmen, Manzares, R Worrall 57.5 1-5

2 S Worrall, Ellis, Hawkins, Fox 58.1 4-8

3 Risager, Fricke, Sneddon, Heeps 58.7 7-11

4 S Worrall, Tungate, Masters, Hawkins 59.1 9-15

5 Risager, Cook, Sedgmen, Heeps 57.9 12-18

6 Manzares, Masters, R Worrall, Fox (f/x) 58.5 16-20

7 Tungate, Sneddon, Fricke, Ellis (r) 60.8 19-23

8 Manzares, S Worrall, Hawkins, Sedgmen (f/x) 59.7 23-25

9 Risager, Masters, Heeps, Fox 59.2 27-27

10 R Worrall, Manzares, Fricke, S Worrall 59.9 32-28

11 Cook, Tungate, Sedgmen, Ellis 59.7 34-32

12 S Worrall, Fricke, Risager, Hawkins 59.6 35-37

13 Tungate, R Worrall, Cook, Masters (f/x) 60.1 40-38

14 S Worrall, Sneddon, Heeps, Ellis 60.3 41-43

15 R Worrall, Cook, Tungate, S Worrall 59.3 45-45

Ipswich 1 pt. Edinburgh 2 pts.

Ipswich: R Worrall 9+1, G Manzares 9, M Risager 10, C Heeps 2, R Tungate 11, A Ellis 2, R Hawkins 2+1

Edinburgh: C Cook 11, J Sedgmen 4+2, M Fricke 6+2, D Sneddon 5+1, S Masters 5, A Fox 0, S Worrall 14.

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