Ipswich Witches 41 Sheffield Tigers 49: What a bad night for Witches....
- Credit: Steve Waller -www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Witches Premiership play-off hopes are over as their nearest challengers Sheffield Tigers came to Foxhall Stadium and beat them in a crunch clash.
Although mathematically the Witches can still make it, there is little hope after a last-heat decider went the visitors' way.
And even the last-heat decider was over almost before it started as Witches skipper Danny King spun round and crashed out on the opening turn. He was excluded as the Tigers took the points.
The weather threatened to put a pay to proceedings with the rain still coming down steadily with just 15 minutes to start time.
But the track had been well prepared for such eventualities and when the rain stopped and a bit of track work, the racing got underway and, although it was tricky, it was the visitors who adapted better.
Although Ipswich took an early lead, Jake Allen winning from the inside grid, as Jason Crump, back in the Witches team again, passing Jack Holder for third.
Danyon Hume, who used to ride for the Witches won the next and with gating proving crucial early on, Troy Batchelor put the Tigers ahead for the first time as Kyle Howarth made a decent pass on Anders Rowe.
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Adam Ellis became the third Tiger to win a heat in the opening heats in a shared heat four, as Craig Cook got the better of Stefan Nielsen on the first bend.
Holder pulled a fine line to pass the fast-starting King on lap one of the next and Ellis got the better of fast-starting Crump to win by a street in heat six.
The Witches pulled points back in heat seven as Cook won and Drew Kemp did superbly to pass and hold off Batchelor.
Ipswich looked likely to level the scores in heat eight, but Allen slid off trying to pass Nielsen as the Tigers held onto their two-point lead.
King rode the boards to pass everyone in heat nine, but with Starke packing up at the back, the Witches still trailed, before Crump brought the house down with a big heat 10 win.
However, Sheffield looked to have sealed the meeting with a 5-1 of their own in the next, before tactical substitute King - and Crump - joined forces to hit a maximum of their own straight back. The meeting at this point was still up in the air.
But heat 13 sealed it for the visitors, as the excellent Holder and Ellis sped away for a comfortable 5-1 and a six-point lead.
Howarth fell with victory in sight in heat 14 for Sheffield, before the final race went the way of the visitors, as King crashed out.
Ipswich: Crump 9+1, Allen 5+1, King 10, Rowe 1, Cook 4+1, Kemp 2, Starke 11.
Sheffield: Holder 11+1, Pickering 6+2, Batchelor 4, Howarth 5, Ellis 12+2, Hume 6, Nieslen 5.