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'It's a massive task... but we'll fight like we have all season' - Hawkins on Witches' first-leg defeat

PUBLISHED: 22:15 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 22:15 15 October 2019

Tobiasz Musielak leading Chris Harris (red helmet) and Richard Lawson in heat three.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.com

Tobiasz Musielak leading Chris Harris (red helmet) and Richard Lawson in heat three. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins knows his side face a tough task to turn their Premiership Play-Off Final around but insists they will continue to fight to the end.

Jason Doyle falls behind Cameron Heeps and Niels-Kristian Iversen on the first bend of the opening heat.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comJason Doyle falls behind Cameron Heeps and Niels-Kristian Iversen on the first bend of the opening heat. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

The hosts went down 49-41 at Foxhall tonight as Swindon Robins emerged victorious from the first leg, thanks to impressive displays from Jason Doyle (11) and Tobiasz Musielak (12+1).

It means the Witches must overturn an eight-point deficit if they are to claim the title at the Abbey Stadium on Thursday night.

"We're eight points down and it's made the task on Thursday massive, but we have to go there and fight for everything and try to claw our way back into it," Hawkins said.

"We'll fight throughout the meeting and will be going there to do the town proud and nothing else.

The Foxhall track ahead of the first leg of the play-off final.   Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comThe Foxhall track ahead of the first leg of the play-off final. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

"We will fight like we have all season and we got there with two choices on Thursday. We either go there and roll over and get beaten or we go there and try to do everyone proud. I know which one of those things this team will do.

"It's a massive ask and it would be such a big achievement if we can do something but we don't give up and we do our best because we need to be in the meeting to take any chances if they do come our way."

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The first five heats of the meeting were all shared before the Witches claimed the first heat advantage of the night through Niels-Kristian Iversen and Cameron Heeps in heat six.

The Robins finished strongly, though, securing heat advantages in five of the last six heats to take control of the tie.

"We just couldn't impose ourselves enough," Hawkins admitted.

"It was close early on and when we did get a little bit in front we couldn't (convert) or races were called back. It's small margins.

"They then got on top and punished us at the end which you would expect from a team as good as Swindon."

Chris Harris trying the outside run on Tobiasz Musielak in heat 3.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comChris Harris trying the outside run on Tobiasz Musielak in heat 3. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Hawkins and the Witches can take pride in an impressive first season back in the top flight, but the team manager is still focussed on the job at hand.

"It's been a brilliant season with tremendous support and everything we've done to get here is a big achievement, but at the moment we still have 15 heats left to try and go one better," he said.

"But overall it's been a great year for the club whatever happens and there's lots to be happy about."

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