Witches wither against Eagles

PUBLISHED: 20:00 26 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:56 03 March 2010

With Scott Nicholls having a rare off night and Eastbourne booking two cracking guests, the Witches were soundly beaten as they got their Elite league B fixtures under way at Arlington.

With Scott Nicholls having a rare off night and Eastbourne booking two cracking guests, the Witches were soundly beaten as they got their Elite league B fixtures under way at Arlington.

Paul Hurry missed the clash after being diagnosed with two broken knuckles on his clutch hand, after falls at Foxhall on Thursday and this left team manager Mike Smillie shuffling his side to try to stay in touch.

In fairness he made the most of what he had, although in the end that was just not good enough and the visitors were unable to produce the same form they showed in the A fixture.

Hurry was in the pits and had phoned John Louis in the morning to say that although he was prepared to give it a go, he did not want to let the team down if he had to retire after one ride. In his absence Ipswich used the rider-replacement facility.

For the Eagles, Todd Wiltshire came in for broken arm victim Mark Loram and was unbeaten by a visiting rider from his first four rides, while Davey Watt rode in place of Peter Ljung and was paid for an impressive ten points.

Ljung, who was racing a Scandinavian U21 Qualifier at Avesta, Sweden, has not been enjoying the best of scores from the number seven berth this season and his absence almost certainly strengthened the Eagles.

However, despite the defeat there were positive points to be taken from this Witches performance, most notably the form of Daniel Nermark.

Recently the Swede is starting to show signs of why the Witches promotion signed him this year and he scorched to an impressive nine points, with an aggressive and committed display.

In heat seven he was involved in a tremendous four lap battle with Joe Screen, with the pair racing side by side for the entire race, before the former British champion edged him out as they raced for the line.

With Nicholls having 'one of those nights' the visitors needed all their riders to lift their game.

Polish pair Chris Slabon and Jarek Hampel started brightly enough but tailed-off, while Danny Bird raced to victory in heat two. However, Tom P Madsen struggled again and his form continues to be a concern.

Hampel was an early leader in heat one, but was soon passed by Wiltshire on the inside of the second bend, as the meeting got underway with a share of the spoils.

Bird won heat two to keep it all square, before the deadlock was broken in heat three, with Slabon and Nermark enjoying a 4-2 to take the visitors into a narrow lead.

This was soon reversed when the Eagles raced to a maximum in heat four. Nicholls missed the start and then shed a chain on the first lap, as he locked up trying to get back on terms with the Eastbourne pairing.

Heat five saw the home side extend their advantage to four, with David Norris winning from Hampel and then Wiltshire defeated Nicholls in the next as the Eagles went six up.

Team manager Smillie immediately brought in Hampel as a tactical substitute and he duly obliged with a win, with Screen and Nermark locked in their four-lap battle for second spot behind.

Heat eight saw the home side re-assert their advantage with a maximum over Slabon and Madsen.

Nicholls was then beaten into second spot by Norris, in the ninth, as the Eagles went ten points to the good. They were now on a roll with Barker and Wiltshire slamming in another 5-1 over Hampel and Nermark in heat ten.

With the meeting quickly slipping away, Smillie brought in Nermark as a tactical, in the first race after the interval, with the Swede sweeping to victory over Screen and when Shields made a mistake on the last lap, to let Hampel through, the visitors had clawed two back.

Nermark was out again as rider replacement in the 12th and with Nicholls in as a tactical hopes were high that Ipswich could gain another advantage. It wasn't to be though, with Nermark having to back off on the first corner, to avoid running into his team-mate, although Nicholls went on to win his first race of the night.

The Eagles then secured the points in heat 13, with another 5-1 before Shields won the penultimate heat from an ever-trying Nermark.

Heat 15 was another fiercely fought race, with Hampel and Nermark looking as though they might at least salvage some pride for Ipswich, until Screen dug deep and produced a tremendous last lap charge to sweep round the outside of the Witches pair.

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