Ipswich Witches throw away a 12-point lead after incredible first leg at Poole
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Poole Pirates 50 Ipswich Witches 40 Play-off semi-final, first leg
Ipswich Witches will be kicking themselves after throwing away a 12-point lead at Poole in the first leg of the Premiership semi-final play-off.
Ritchie Hawkins side started like a train on the south coast, adapting to the greasy conditions far better than the home side.
And after eight heats were 18-30 ahead.
However, the most extraordinary comeback from the home side saw Poole race to six 5-1 maximums in the final seven races, to leave the Witches with plenty to do in the second leg at Foxhall Heath on Saturday.
The Witches can still do it of course, but how they should be in a much stronger position than 10 down.
"Obviously we are very disappointed to have such a good lead and lose it," said Witches skipper Danny King.
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"Conditions played into our hands early on, but Poole are good at home and they gave us a gating lesson at the end.
"But there are 15 heats still to go and it certainly isn't over.
"We'll be up for it on Saturday night, don't worry about that."
The rain came down at the start of heat one with both Poole riders gating to the front. But Niels Kristian-Iversen bravely passed Nico Covatti, before Covatti fell on the last lap in a shared opening heat.
It was a heavy shower, if only brief, and it didn't hold up proceedings, but did leave the track greasy.
Ricky Wells hit the tapes in the next and went off 15m. But it was Jake Allen off gate four who roared around Tomas Jonasson, with Wells picking off James Sarjeant. The Witches took a four point lead after a great first lap from Richard Lawson who shot to the front. Chris Harris weaved his way into second to block both Pirates.
Allen and King repeated the dose in the next to stretch the lead to eight as Ipswich made a dream start.
Iversen passed Nicolai Klindt to win the next and King did well to pass Covatti.
It was 10-up for the Witches in the next as Lawson and Harris repeated their heat three feat. It was incredible stuff from the visitors.
Allen made it three wins out of three as Cameron Heeps held onto third in heat eight.
Poole hit back in heat nine with a 5-1, their first heat advantage of the night, but the Witches were still up by eight. They made it 10 in heat 10, Harris superbly passing Covatti.
Again Poole hit back with a 5-1 and how the Pirates needed it. Heat 12 saw both Pirates gate again but Harris soon got into second and charged after Jonasson.
But, trying hard, Harris clipped the home man as the pair roared into the final lap. Harris was excluded and the home side gained another 5-1 with the race awarded, as Poole piled on the pressure as the meeting went down to the last few races.
The Witches lead had been cut to two with three heats to go and incredibly Poole completed the comeback with a 5-1 in heat 13.
The momentum was all Poole's now and they finished with two more maximums. It was a sorry end to the meeting for Ipswich who will now have to regroup for the second leg at Foxhall on Saturday night.
Poole: B Kurtz 12, N Covatti 5, N Klindt 7+1, J Grajczonek 6+3, J Holder 9+2, T Jonasson 10+1, R Wells 1+1
Ipswich: NK Iversen 7, C Heeps 2+1, C Harris 8+2, R Lawson 7, D King 5+1, J Sarjeant 0, J Allen 11
1 Kurtz, Iversen, Heeps, Covatti (f) 3-3
2 Allen, Jonasson, Wells (15m), Sarjeant 6-6
3 Lawson, Harris, Grajczonek, Klindt 7-11
4 Allen, King, Holder, Wells 8-16
5 Iversen, Klindt, Grajczonek, Heeps 11-19
6 Kurtz, King, Covatti, Sarjeant 15-21
7 Lawson, Harris, Holder, Jonasson 16-26
8 Allen, Covatti, Heeps, Wells 18-30
9 Klindt, Grajczonek, King, Sarjeant 23-31
10 Harris, Covatti, Lawson, Kurtz 25-35
11 Holder, Jonasson, Iversen, Allen 30-36
12 Jonasson, Klindt, Allen, Harris (f/x) 35-37
13 Kurtz, Holder, Iversen, King 40-38
14 Jonasson, Grajczonek, Allen, Lawson 45-39
15 Holder, Kurtz, Harris, Iversen 50-40