Ipswich Witches keep KO Cup final hopes alive with 12-point loss at Sheffield Tigers
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
KO Cup semi-final first leg Sheffield Tigers 51 Ipswich Witches 39 The Ipswich Witches will have to overcome a 12-point deficit tomorrow night if they are to reach the Championship KO Cup Final, writes Steve Waller.
For much of the meeting the Suffolk side stayed in touch with their hosts in Sheffield before the meeting started to slip away in the latter stages.
After going 12 points behind, following a Tigers 4-2 in the twelfth, a 5-1 maximum in the thirteenth, from superb guest Ben Barker and skipper Danny King, brought them back to within eight, to give them hope.
However, Sheffield immediately hit back with their own maximum in the penultimate heat, before disaster struck with Barker crashing out heavily after hitting the curb in the final race.
Skipper King was awarded the win, thus keeping the Witches hopes alive ahead of the second leg at Foxhall tonight.
After two shared opening heats the Tigers got their noses in front with a 4-2 in heat three.
Barker then went from third to first in the next, to keep things tight, before the home side extended their lead to four points, following a battle at the back between Josh Bates and Nathan Greaves, in the fifth.
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Barker won his second in the sixth, before the visitors lost Kyle Newman in a fall in the next. He walked back to the pits but took no further part in the meeting and is a doubt for the return clash.
With Cameron Heaps winning the rerun there was still only four in it, but home riders Jan Graversen and Todd Kurtz doubled this advantage with a 5-1 in heat eight and Lasse Bjerre passed Barker as the Tigers went ten up following a 4-2 in the ninth.
And two races later it was Bjerre who won again to stretch the advantage to 12.
The question of whether they Witches can overcome that deficit will be answered at Foxhall tomorrow night, where the two sides go head to head again, with a knock out final place awaiting the aggregate winners.
Sheffield: S Nicholls 10+1, T Kurtz 6+2, L Bjerre 15+1, J Bates 7, J Graversen 10+3, G Wood 2+1
Ipswich: D King 13+1, C Heeps 8+1, K Newman 0, B Barker 11, N Greaves 4, C Mountain 3+1
1: King, Kurtz, Nicholls, Heeps 61.6 3-3
2: Graversen, Greaves, Mountain, Wood 63.0 6-6
3: Bjerre, Heeps, Bates, Newman 62.4 10-8
4: Barker, Nicholls, Wood, Mountain 62.8 13-11
5: Bjerre, King, Bates, Greaves 62.0 17-13
6: Barker, Nicholls, Kurtz, Greaves 63.0 20-16
7: Heeps, Bjerre, Graversen, Newman (f.exc) 63.3 23-19
8: Graversen, Kurtz, Mountain, Greaves (ret) 63.1 28-20
9: Bjerre, Barker, Bates, Mountain 62.9 32-22
10: Nicholls, Greaves, Heeps, Kurtz 63.5 35-25
11: King, Kurtz, Graversen, Mountain 63.5 38-28
12: Bjerre, Heeps, Wood, Greaves 63.5 42-30
13: Barker, King, Bates, Nicholls 63.5 43-35
14: Bates, Graversen, Mountain, Greaves (Ret) 64.19 48-36
15: King, Nicholls, Bjerre, Barker (F.exc) Awarded 51-39