Ipswich Witches are guaranteed a play-off place in this season's Premiership, even though they have three more meetings to race.

But who they face in the two-legged semi-final is yet unknown.

The top four, of the Witches, Belle Vue Aces, Sheffield Tigers and Wolverhampton Wolves are the play-off hopefuls, although King's Lynn Stars have an outside chance. Only Peterborough Panthers cannot make it.

But who would the Witches want to face? MIKE BACON takes a look and says who he thinks....


Now this is an interesting one for the Witches.

Both sides have beaten each other on their own tracks, twice. But the most recent of those was a huge 60-30 hammering by the Aces of the Witches, in Manchester.

That was easily Ipswich's biggest defeat of the season so far and, against dangerous opponents who can make you look very ordinary on their huge National Stadium bowl. The Aces have hit 60 on three other occasions at home, where they are unbeaten.

That night lots went wrong for Ipswich, but if it were to happen in either the semi-final or final, there would be no way back at Foxhall.

In Max Fricke, Brady Kurtz and Matej Zagar, Belle Vue have the strongest heat leader trio in the Premiership. But history shows they don't all ride Foxhall well - at least not all at the same time!


The Witches still have to go to Owlerton at the end of this month in their final Premiership clash.

Like Belle Vue, the Tigers of Yorkshire are unbeaten at home and they have plenty of home meetings left to accrue enough points to top the standings at the end of the regular season.

They are the only team this season to win in the Premiership at Foxhall, but that was back in May. Last time out, the Witches beat Sheffield by 18 at Foxhall, so far the Suffolk side's biggest home win of the season.

Sheffield will be hoping Adam Ellis, who always goes well at Ipswich, will be back for the final push, while the signing of Lewis Kerr is a good one should they race Ipswich, where he has had some decent meetings.

That last big win at Foxhall for the Witches though, still shines bright for me.


Now here's a conundrum.

The obvious thought from Ipswich fans could be to say the Witches would like to get Wolves in the semi-finals to give themselves the best opportunity of a place in the play-off final.

Because if you look at this season's stats you would say surely the Witches would win a two-legged meeting between the sides.

Ipswich are the only team to have won on the Monmore Green track in the Premiership (twice in fact), and have beaten Wolves twice at Foxhall. Happy days, surely? Well, don't be so sure.

For one, the first time the Witches won at Wolves, the home side were minus Ryan Douglas and Leon Flint, with their two guest replacements scoring five points between them. The chances of Flint and Douglas netting that between them in a play-off meeting at home isn't likely. They will score more.

The second time the Witches won at Wolves, it was an Erik Riss-inspired 16 points from reserve that did the trick for the Suffolk side. Riss is currently injured and out of the Witches team for the season.

So, what looks on paper the obvious choice, for me is far from so. And Wolves only lost by two at Foxhall earlier in the season.

A potential banana skin?


The outsiders for a top-four place, the Stars have improved of late and made a couple of new signings, hoping to sneak in.

And, if they do, although the Witches have won all four meetings between the teams in the Premiership this season, they have all been incredibly tight. Twice the Witches won 43-47 at Lynn and twice Ipswich won 46-44 at Foxhall.

As I said, it's unlikely the Stars will make the cut, but it they did, 'revenge is a dish best served cold', will be the statement their management use to inspire them.

Personally, I hope they don't make the play-offs (nothing personal).

I simply think if they do, they could be huge spoilers.


So, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

The Premiership play-offs have a real air of expectancy this season and I can assure you every fan of every club in them will be convinced their team can triumph. Witches fans are no different.

So, who would I like to see Ritchie Hawkins' Witches race in the semi-finals? Well, this make shock some, it may surprise many, it may surprise no-one.

But for me, I think the Witches best chance of making it through to the final is a semi-final clash against... wait for it... Sheffield.

While Belle Vue, I feel, will beat Wolves in the other semi.... And of course the Witches will win the final!

Mystic Mike signing off.....