Ipswich Witches were put to the sword as their Premiership play-off hopes came crashing down to earth after Belle Vue took them apart at Foxhall Stadium.

The Witches went down 38-52 to a solid Aces side who, despite the home side starting well, hit back and took advantage of a catalogue of misfortune, poor riding and falls in the home camp.

How it all unfolded at Foxhall in play-off semi

Both Rohan Tungate and Danny King hit the deck, while Troy Batchelor and Aaron Summers suffered bike issues, as the visitors as good as booked their place in the final, with the second leg to come at Belle Vue on Monday night.

The Aces deserved their win, there were far too many ordinary performances from the home riders in front of a big Foxhall crowd, and only Jason Doyle showed his true form, with another brilliant maximum, while young Anders Rowe did well from reserve.


In theory of course this tie is not over, but it will take an incredible turn of events for Ipswich to turn this around on Monday.

“We were great for 10 laps and then after Rohan’s crash it fell to bits," Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins said.

"We had machinery problems and that incident with Rohan. We have been saying it all season that we need to improve at home otherwise we will get punished and we certainly did today.

“We are only halfway through but if this is the end of our season as such in the league after such a great season, it certainly isn’t fitting to end this way and go out like that.

"We need to go into Monday with no pressure on us and we have nothing to lose and need to try and perform a miracle.”

Yet, the Witches got off to a superb start in heat one, Aaron Summers flying from the inside and Doyle joining him at the front. Tom Brennan made a fine effort to pass Summers on the final lap, but Summers held on.

Rowe flew round everyone down the back straight in the next as the Witches stretched their early lead.

Tungate led heat three, but Matej Zagar flew under the Ipswich rider on turn three, lap three. Tungate fell and was excluded, with the race awarded a 2-4 to Belle Vue, as Ipswich now led 11-7.

Brady Kurtz easily won heat four, as Craig Cook passed King in the next. Ipswich moved back to four ahead in heat six after Doyle won well and Summers passed Etheridge.

It was nip and tuck as Zagar won his second on the bounce and Charles Wright passed Paul Starke.

The Aces took the lead for the first time in the meeting after Rowe and Summers collided down the back straight in heat eight as Belle Vue gained a 5-1 to lead 23-25 after heat eight.

Tungate got no further than the first turn as the Aces stretched their lead to four, before Doyle won his third race of the night in heat 10, but it was 28-32 to the visitors.

Then disaster hit Ipswich. Batchelor was well clear with just two turns to go when his bike packed up, gifting the Aces as 5-1, as they stretched their lead to eight.

It was a cruel blow for the Witches who needed all the luck going in the final few heats. And it went from bad to worse for Ipswich, King falling on bend four in heat 12. He was excluded as the Aces extended their lead to 12.

Cook was excluded after a ferocious opening first turn in heat 13 which saw all four riders hit the same bit of dirt together.

Doyle won the re-run as Batchelor and Kurtz swapped places, before the Aces man got into second.

The Aces increased their lead to 14, before Doyle completed his maximum in the final race. But it was nowhere near enough for the Witches as the Foxhall faithful trooped home bitterly disappointed.

Top Witch: Jason Doyle: A superb 15-pt maximum in another impressive performance from him.

Ipswich: Jason Doyle (3,3,3,3,3)=15; Aaron Summers (2*,1,ret,0)=3+1; Danny King (2,2,2,f/x)=6; Rohan Tungate (f/x,0,ret,1)=1; Troy Batchelor (1*,2,e/f,1,0)=4+1; Paul Starke (1,0,1,0)=2; Anders Rowe (3,2,1,1)=7..

Belle Vue: Craig Cook (0,3,2*,f/x)=5+1; Tom Brennan (1,1,3,3)=8; Matej Zagar (3,3,1*,3,2)=12+1; Charles Wright (1,1,2,3)=7; Brady Kurtz (3,2,3,2,1*)=11+1; Jye Etheridge (2,0,1)=3; Norick Blodorn (0,0,2*,2*,2*)=6+3.

*bonus point

Heat details

1. Doyle, Summers, Brennan, Cook 56.3 5-1

2. Rowe, Etheridge, Starke, Blodorn 57.2 9-3

3. Zagar, King, Wright, Tungate (f/x) no time 11-7

4. Kurtz, Rowe, Batchelor, Blodorn 56.7 14-10

5. Cook, King, Brennan, Tungate 57.1 16-14

6. Doyle, Kurtz, Summers, Etheridge 56.7 20-16

7. Zagar, Batchelor, Wright, Starke 57.3 22-20

8. Brennan, Blodorn, Rowe, Summers (r) 57.3 23-25

9. Kurtz, King, Etheridge, Tungate (ret) 56.5 25-29

10. Doyle, Wright, Zagar, Summers 56.7 28-32

11. Brennan, Cook, Starke, Batchelor (e/f) 58.3 29-37

12. Zagar, Blodorn, Rowe, King (f/x) 57.7 30-42

13. Doyle, Kurtz, Batchelor, Cook (f/x) 57.6 34-44

14. Wright, Blodorn, Tungate, Starke 58.3 35-49

15. Doyle, Zagar, Kurtz, Batchelor 57.7 38-52