Patched-up Ipswich Witches lose at home to Edinburgh in play-off match
- Credit: Archant
A patched-up Ipswich ‘Sackers’ Witches side suffered a consecutive home play-off defeat as Edinburgh Monarchs put one foot in the play-off final with a 49-41 victory at Foxhall Stadium last night.
In a meeting that Bob Ellis and his track staff did well to get on after heavy afternoon rain, the home side were on the backfoot from the off.
However they battled back into the meeting, only for two of the Witches’ guests on the night, Rene Bach and Nicolai Klindt, to both suffer tapes exclusions in the space of three heats.
It gave the impetus back to the visitors as the Witches had taken a six-point lead with just five races to go.
However, with Monarchs’ reserve Derek Sneddon showing superb form notching a paid 17 points and the ultra-smooth Craig Cook scoring a maximum, Edinburgh hit back strongly at the death.
Two 5-1 maximums in the final two races, as the rain came down, made it rather a flattering score for the visitors.
But they will care not and the four points they picked up from this meeting means they now just have to beat the Witches by any amount at Armadale tonight to reach the play-off final.
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Cook was away from the start in the opening heat as Cameron Heeps passed Max Fricke down the back straight.
Ritchie Hawkins made a good start in heat two, but Liam Carr nipped past. Hawkins lost his steel shoe and fell on turn one, lap two.
It left Chris Schramm on his own and he looked to be on the receiving end of a Monarchs 5-1.
But Carr made a mistake and Schramm split the Edinburgh duo.
Jozsef Tabaka went through the tapes for the visitors and instead of putting him on 15m, reserve Sneddon came into replace him to win again.
Morten Risager passed Sneddon, on his third race on the bounce, in the next and did well not to collect leader Theo Pijper as they entered the third turn.
Poor Hawkins thought there was going to be a crash ahead of him, so laid his bike down, only for Pijper and Risager to continue, with the Ipswich man the victor.
Cook streaked to victory in the next before the Foxhall faithful at last had something to cheer as Heeps flew from the outside and Bach joined him at the front to level the scores up at 18-all.
Tabaka held his nerve to pass Risager down the back straight. With Schramm falling, the Monarchs were ahead again. Heeps was in inspired form.
Pushed wide on turn two by Sneddon and back in third place, he picked off Fricke and then Sneddon in thrilling fashion. The crowd rose as Hawkins passed Fricke on the final bend and it was all level again.
Bach and Klindt got their gating boots on as the Witches took the lead for the first time.
Bach went through the tapes in heat 10.
Heeps was away and when Tabaka started slowing down with engine problems, Bach struck, the Witches now six ahead.
Cook cleverly held Risager off to team-ride Sneddon home in the next and the Witches lead was down to two.
Klindt then went through the tapes in heat 12. He was replaced by Schramm and although Hawkins passed Sneddon, the scores were again all level.
The rain was coming down now and Cook raced to a win in the next, five seconds slower than his heat one time.
And when Tabaka and Sneddon shot to the front in the penultimate heat, the visitors were four points ahead with one race to go.
Tabaka and Cook made it a dream night for the visitors with another maximum 5-1 to seal the full four points.
n The Witches end their play-off meetings at Edinburgh tonight.
Matthew Wethers steps in for the injured Ben Barker, while Nicloai Klindt is also in the side. Steve Worrall takes the place of Josh Bates, who was scheduled to ride.
Ipswich: M Wethers, C Heeps, N Klindt, R/R, M Risager, S Worrall, R Hawkins.