Ipswich Witches get opening night at Foxhall off to a flying start with victory
PUBLISHED: 21:33 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 22:50 28 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Witches 48 Leicester Lions 42
Ipswich Witches got their opening night off to the perfect start with victory over Leicester at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday night.
The Premiership Witches were too good for their Championship opponents as they made it a quick-fire double over the Lions, having won at Beaumont Park on Saturday night.
The Lions were set to be boosted with Rory Schlein taking his place in their line-up, but when the Aussie crashed out in his opening race and pulled out of the meeting, the Witches were strong favourites to go onto win.
And that they did, with every Witch, bar Jake Allen winning a heat, and even Allen was involved in the match-winning 5-1 in heat 14.
All in all a satisfactory night’s work for Richie Hawkins’ side and it was especially pleasing to see skipper Danny King back on great form after his arm injury last season.
The home side got off to a good start, Frenchman David Bellego flew from the inside gate to win heat one as Scott Nicholls got the better of Chris Harris on the opening turns.
Drew Kemp, in as a guest for Krystian Pieszczek, the Pole unavailable for these opening challenge meetings, won heat two where the Witches were on a 5-1 for a time, before Connor Mountain passed Jake Allen.
It was a hairy opening lap in heat three with no four riders giving an inch.
Cameron Heeps came out on top in a shared race and King roared from gate three to win the next as the Witches provided all the opening race winners.
Schlein was in heat five with Nicholls.
The Aussie made a good start but reared up and crashed on turn two. Thankfully he got up, but looking rather groggy and was excluded from the re-run and pulled out of the clash.
Richard Lawson made a fine start in the next but Nicholls switched back underneath him in style in a shared race five. Harris swooped round Richie Worrall in an exciting heat six as Ipswich turned the screw.
King gated like a rocket in the next and heat eight was a cracker.
Bellego and Kemp were out of the traps like scalded cats. They team-rode for two laps before Bellego took the lead and Mountain passed Kemp on the last lap.
Tactical rider Nicholls and Worrall hit back with a maximum in the next, as the Lions reduced the Witches lead to six. Bates gated like a rocket to beat Harris and the Lions were closing the gap.
King and Nicholls had a glorious scrap in heat 11, passing and re-passing, with the Witches skipper grabbing the win. Lawson won his first race at Foxhall as a Witches and six of the seven home side had now taken the chequered flag.
Ipswich led by eight but Nicholls and Worrall reduced that to six with two to go as Harris passed Worrall.
Heeps and Allen sealed the win in heat 14 wit a 5-1 as the Foxhall fans went home more than happy.
Ipswich: C Harris 8, D Bellego 7, R Lawson 5, C Heeps 8+1, D King 10, J Allen 4+1, D Kemp 6
Leicester: S Nicholls 15+1, E Perks 0, J Bates 7+2, R Douglas 6, R Worrall 10, J Thomas 0, C Mountain 4, R Schlein 0
1 Bellego, Nicholls, Harris, Perks 56.2 4-2
2 Kemp, Mountain, Allen, Thomas 59.5 8-4
3 Heeps, Douglas, Bates, Lawson 56.9 11-7
4 King, Worrall, Kemp, Mountain 57.6 15-9
5 Nicholls, Lawson, Heeps, Schlein (f/x) 57.5 18-12
6 Harris, Worrall, Bellego, Thomas 57.1 22-14
7 King, Douglas, Bates, Allen 57.6 25-17
8 Bellego, Mountain, Kemp, Perks 59.7 29-19
9 Worrall, Nicholls*, Heeps, Lawson 58.0 30-24
10 Bates, Harris, Douglas, Bellego 57.3 32-28
11 King, Nicholls, Allen, Perks (r) 57.4 36-30
12 Lawson, Bates, Kemp, Thomas 58.5 40-32
13 Nicholls, Harris, Worrall, King 57.3 42-36
14 Heeps, Allen, Douglas, Mountain 58.1 47-37
15 Nicholls, Worrall, King, Bellego 58.8 48-42
The Ipswich skipper showed no ill effects from his arm injury of last season and was in great form, his scrap with Scott Nicholls in heat 11 a delight