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Ipswich Witches edge to narrow victory at Berwick Bandits in SGB Championship

PUBLISHED: 23:49 08 July 2017 | UPDATED: 23:49 08 July 2017

Rory Schlein was the Witches' top scorer. Picture: Steve Waller

Rory Schlein was the Witches' top scorer. Picture: Steve Waller

© Copyright Steve Waller

The ‘Tru7.com’ Ipswich Witches survived a major scare to record a last heat 47-45 win at Berwick Bandits on Saturday in the Championship

The visitors started the meeting in dominant style and looked to be heading for a convincing away win at the side propping up the table. However, after the interval the home side responded and led by two with a heat to go. Danny King and Rory Schlein produced a 5-1 in the final heat to secure three league points as the Australian led the way with 12+2 on the night.

King won heat one as Kyle Newman picked up third to put the Witches ahead from the off. Home reserve Jye Etheridge won heat two but Connor Mountain and Nathan Greaves were both in the points for a 3-3. The Witches then started to move up a gear and recorded a 5-1 in heat three thanks to Schlein and Cameron Heeps. The advantage was then extended in heat four as guest Tom Woolley fell for the home side and Kevin Doolan suffered an engine failure leaving Justin Sedgmen and Mountain to record a 5-0 to put the Witches 17-6 up.

King won heat five in a 3-3 but the Bandits were back in the tie after heat six. Guest Ryan Douglas was sent out on a tactical ride by Gary Havelock, which he duly won with Joe Jacobs second for an 8-1 to reduce the Witches’ lead dramatically. However, the visitors reacted immediately in the following heat as Heeps and Schlein hit a maximum of their own. Newman won heat eight as Mountain collected third to extend the lead, putting the visitors 30-20 up.

Dany Gappmaier won heat nine with Greaves getting second ahead of David Howe, meaning a home 4-2 to give the Bandits some hope of a fightback. Douglas was proving to be an able guest for the home side and he won heat 10 but the heat was shared and the Witches looked to have things under control. However, it was far from the case as after the interval the home side came out firing as Etheridge and Doolan raced to a 5-1 in heat 11. Schlein won heat 12 with Greaves third to leave the Witches still in control and 40-34 up.

Things became very nervy for the Witches after heat 13 as Douglas and Doolan delighted the home fans with a 5-1 and in a remarkable turnaround the home side repeated the feat in heat 14 thanks to Howe and Etheridge to put them two points up with just one heat to go. Thankfully King and Schlein rose to the occasion in the final heat and recorded a vital 5-1 to give the Witches a 47-45 win and three league points.

“We were eight up after heat 10 but the interval came and they hit us really hard with three 5-1’s,” said Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

“We were making the starts at the start of the meeting but we didn’t make enough after the interval. We have done well in heat 15 to pull off a win. From the position we were in to have to scrape a win from heat 15 is not great. We are lucky to have Danny and Rory to call on for that pressurised heat 15 and they did the business.”

The boss says he can’t put his finger on what went wrong after the interval but that his side will need to rectify the issue.

“I would love to know what happened after the interval, it is something we are going to have to talk about, improve on and learn from. Luckily we still have the away win and the three points but it is something we will have to rectify for future meetings.

“We have got an away win at the end of the day and everywhere is tough to go but we made it a lot more difficult than it needed to be.”

Hawkins says he will continue to look at the riding order on a meeting by meeting basis as he has done all season.

“It is something I do meeting by meeting and I look at how I think it could go. We did well at the start but nearly let it slip at the end, if that is down to the riding order I don’t know. It is something I will review and look at on a meeting by meeting basis.”

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