Brilliant Ipswich Witches fight back in first leg of cup final after Rory Schlein crashes out
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Peterborough Panthers 47 Ipswich Witches 43
Ipswich Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins heaped praise on his side after they went down by just four points at Peterborough tonight in the KO Cup final, first leg.
The Suffolk side lost Rory Schlein in an awkward heat four crash that left the Australian with an injured ankle.
He had to withdraw from the meeting and by heat nine the Witches were trailing 34-20 and starring down the barrel.
But they bounced back in style, winning the last five races and getting heat advantages in three of them.
“We have been here so many times with injuries this season with our backs against the wall, I just knew we would cope,” Hawkins said.
“We fought so hard, our will to win was just unbelievable. Our heads never went down.
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“The two reserves, Connor (Mountain) and Nathan (Greaves), both had huge races to help bring us back into it – and Danny won three of the final five races. I’m so proud of them all.
“We have given ourselves a real chance now to win the cup, but Peterborough will come to Foxhall on Thursday fired up, it’s a cup final.”
Former Witch Scott Nicholls won the opener for the Panthers, guesting for Jack Holder, as both King and Kyle Newman passed Simon Lambert.
Mountain fell on the third bend of the first lap of heat two and was excluded and in the re-run his team-mate Greaves didn’t make the two minute time allowance and went off a 15m handicap. It proved costly as the Panthers took a 5-1 maximum.
However, the Witches hit back as Cameron Heeps and Newman went past Ulrich Ostergaard to secure the Witches first heat advantage of the afternoon to level the scores up.
Schlein crashed out in heat four, taking an awkward fall, as Peterborough re-took the lead and it was set to be a tough night ahead for the Witches as Ostergaard rode a fine race in the next to stretch the home side’s lead as he went past King on lap one.
Simon Lambert and Nicholls coasted to an easy maximum in the next and it appeared serious damage limitation now for the visitors from Suffolk.
Chris Harris won heat seven before Paul Starke rode a brave ride to round Heeps on bend four of lap one in heat eight.
The Witches were already ten behind and that became 14 in the next as the Panthers cruised to an easy maximum. It was all Peterborough as Nicholls and Heeps had a real ding-dong lap one in heat 10 with the former Witch coming out on top – the Witches had won just one of the opening 10 races.
However, they continued to battle and King won heat 11 in style with Greaves battling with Harris throughout, pipping the Panthers man on the line for second place in a thrilling finale. It was just what the visitors needed and it gave Ipswich hope and the visitors appeared to feed off Greaves’ fine ride.
Heeps won heat 12 as Mountain passed Lambert and the home side’s lead was down to eight.
Greaves crashed in heat 13, with his bike bouncing over the fence with the Panthers on a 5-1.
King made the most of it to win the re-run.
Ipswich had shown real character and when Newman and Mountain shot to the front in heat 14, the Panthers led by just four. King won the final heat and it is now all to play for at Foxhall on Thursday night as both clubs go in search of silverware.
1 Nicholls, King, Newman, Lambert 61.5 3-3
2 Lambert, Campos, Greaves (15m), Mountain (f/x) 62.8 8-4
3 Heeps, Newman, Ostergaard, Starke 60.8 9-9
4 Harris, Mountain, Campos, Schlein (f/x) 61.8 13-11
5 Ostergaard, King, Starke, Greaves 60.6 17-13
6 Lambert, Nicholls, Mountain, Greaves 61.6 22-14
7 Harris, Heeps, Newman, Campos 60.7 25-17
8 Starke, Heeps, Lambert, Mountain 61.0 29-19
9 Starke, Ostergaard, Mountain, Greaves 61.8 34-20
10 Nicholls, Heeps, Newman, Campos 61.2 37-23
11 King, Greaves, Harris, Lambert 61.2 38-28
12 Heeps, Starke, Mountain, Lambert 61.4 40-32
13 King, Nicholls, Harris, Greaves (f/x) 61.6 43-35
14 Newman, Mountain, Ostergaard, Lambert 62.4 44-40
15 King, Nicholls, Harris, Heeps 61.6 47-43
Peterborough: S Nicholls 12+1, R/R, P Starke 9, U Ostergaard 7+1, C Harris 9+2, S Lambert 7, S Campos 3+1
Ipswich: D King 13, R/R, C Heeps 12, K Newman 8+4, R Schlein 0, N Greaves 3+1, C Mountain 7+1