Ipswich Witches pipped to top spot by Somerset after final heat defeat
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Witches lost out on finishing top of the Premier League table in the last heat of their regular season at Somerset last night.
Trailing 43-41 after heat 14, the Witches would have finished at the summit, ahead of Somerset, with a draw but could only earn a 3-3 in heat 15, Josh Grajczonek hanging on for victory to give Somerset victory, 46-44, and top spot in the table.
That means the Rebels will now have first and third picks over which teams, that finished between third and sixth, they want to face in the play-offs. Witches were left having to be content with second.
Cameron Heeps top scored with paid 13 while Leigh Lanham scored 10.
Heeps and Rohan Tungate powered Ipswich to a 5-1 maximum in heat one before Adam Ellis took the flag with Richie Hawkins third, in heat two.
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The Witches went 12-6 ahead after a 3-3 in heat three, before Morten Risager (two points) and Hawkins then won Ipswich another useful three points in a drawn heat four.
Leading 15-9, Ipswich were pegged back in heat five when Mellgren took a win from the tapes with Alex Davies in second.
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Worse was to come in heat six as the hosts got back level with a 4-2. Rider replacement Davies got inside everyone to take the lead and kept it, but Ellis did well to hold off Newman in third.
Lanham edged the Witches ahead with a win in heat seven with Tungate in third.
The Witches then bagged a massive 5-1 in heat eight to go 27-21 ahead with Hawkins gaining his first maximum of the night and Heeps taking second.
The Rebels wouldn’t lie down though and Davies, along with Mellgren, flew out of the traps for a 5-1, despite Risager’s best efforts to get in between them. The Witches led 28-26 with six heats to go but the Rebels levelled with a 4-2 in heat 10, thanks to rider replacement Grajczonek, and Newman.
Hawkins jumped the line in heat 11 but after the restart, Ipswich’s Heeps led the way with his team-mate in third for a 4-2 and a 34-32 lead for the Witches.
Ipswich went four points ahead in heat 12, Tungate taking the win. Ellis was third.
In heat 13, Grajczonek hung on for the win but Heeps pushed him all the way in second to maintain a two-point lead.
In the penultimate heat, despite leading from the line, Lanham was bullied by Davies and Wright who earned Somerset a huge 5-1 and a two-point lead.
It was all down to the last heat, with the Rebels leading 43-41, and after Tungate jumped the tapes, Tungate and Heeps shut out Davies but Grajczonek was not to be denied.