Ipswich Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins: ‘After seven heats I would have taken a one-point win’
PUBLISHED: 21:48 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:28 09 June 2017
© Copyright Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 50 Edinburgh Monarchs 39
Ipswich Witches showed true grit with a superb come from behind win over league leaders Edinburgh Monarchs at Foxhall Stadium tonight.
The Suffolk side were three points down and a man down after reserve Nathan Greaves had to pull out of the meeting after a horrid heat four crash.
The high-flying visitors had already won five of the first seven heats and were looking set to spoil the Witches night. But a stunning transformation, starting in heat eight, saw the Witches regain their composure and fire themselves into an impressive lead with a succession of 5-1 maximums – a lead they were not to relinquish.
Led by Aussie Rory Schlein, who produced a masterclass of gating and passing, the Suffolk side took the meeting by the scruff of the neck and produced easily their best performance at Foxhall this season, with all the riders looking confident as the meeting work on.
It left Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins delighted: “I was bubbling inside after first six heats, but I think in previous years we would have rolled but this set of riders stepped up to the plate.
“Losing Nathan was a big blow, but Connor Mountain’s heat eight ride turned the meeting round.
“Really proud of the fight from that moment on. We have a few still struggling a bit and we are still winning. They say good teams know how to win even when not at 100%.
“Good we didn’t let Edinburgh get a point either, like we did let Glasgow the other week. I’m confident we can do well at Edinburgh next week.”
As Hawkins Connor Mountain indeed helped start the comeback.
Saddled with extra rides after Greaves’ injury, the Mildenhall Fen Tigers youngster gated to the front with Cameron Heeps in heat eight to bring the house down as the Witches then took control.
All the Witches came to the party in the end and this was just the sort of performance this Ipswich side is capable of producing.
Danny King flew from the start off the outside to win the opener, with Cameron Heeps trying everything to try and pass Edinburgh’s Mark Riss. The Monarchs won their first race of the night as Max Clegg won the reserves heat and the Withes got lucky in heat three as the Monarchs looked all set to take a four-point lead. However, Josh Pickering fell on the last lap, as Justin Sedgmen and Kyle Newman nipped through. It was a lucky call for Ipswich and one race later Witches’ Nathan Greaves took a nasty fall on the entrance to turn one after clipping Mitchell Davey’s machine. In the re-run Ricky Wells took a third heat win for the visitors as they took the lead.
Ipswich had failed to dominate the early stages but it looked good in heat five as Sedgmen led Edinburgh No.1 Sam Masters.
Masters flew under Sedgmen on the final lap and Sedgmen slid off. He was excluded and the Witches were now three down.
King won the next but Erik Riss was proving a star for the visitors and he shot from gate two in heat seven. The Monarchs were looking good but the Foxhall fans were up on their feet in heat eight as Heeps and Connor Mountain gated in style to the front.
It was just what the Witches needed and when Sedgmen and Newman shot to the front in heat nine, the crowd were on their feet again. The Witches had turned the meeting round. King and Heeps dented Erik Riss’ unbeaten streak and the home fans loved it. Schlein showed his class, gating round Sam Masters to keep the home momentum and Sedgmen was up next to star for the home side as they closed in on victory. King hit the tapes and then crashed in heat 13 as Schlein produced the race of the season to pass Masters.
Hawkins admitted he would have taken any kind of win halfway through the meeting.
“It was really important at the start of the meeting to not let them get a point but after seven or eight heats I would have taken a one point win! To then go on and win by 11 was pleasing, I would taken that at the start of the meeting let alone after the first seven heats, it was a great effort by the lads.”
The former skipper gave an update on the fitness of Greaves after his heavy fall which forced him to withdraw from the meeting.
“Nathan has got soft tissue damage in his back, we will have to assess him and he will be sore in the morning. It was a big crash but I think he should be ok for next week.”
Ipswich: D King 12, C Heeps 6+1, J Sedgmen 8, K Newman 7+2, R Schlein 11, C Mountain 4+3, N Greaves 2
Edinburgh: S Masters 11, M Riss 2+1, E Riss 9, J Pickering 4, R Wells 7+1, M Clegg 5+2, M Davey 1
1 King, Masters, M Riss, Heeps 55.8 3-3
2 Clegg, Greaves, Mountain, Davey 58.3 6-6
3 E Riss, Sedgmen, Newman, Pickering (f/r) 56.4 9-9
4 Wells, Schlein, Davey, Greaves 57.2 11-13
5 Masters, Newman, Sedgmen (f/x), M Riss (f) no time 13-16
6 King, Wells, Heeps, Clegg 56.4 17-18
7 E Riss, Schlein, Pickering, Mountain 56.5 19-22
8 Heeps, Mountain, M Riss, Davey 57.6 24-23
9 Sedgmen, Newman, Wells, Clegg 57.4 29-24
10 King, Heeps, E Riss, Pickering 56.7 34-25
11 Schlein, Masters, Clegg, Mountain 56.6 37-28
12 Sedgmen, E Riss, Clegg, Mountain 57.0 40-31
13 Schlein, Masters, Wells, King (f/x) 57.5 43-34
14 Pickering, Newman, Mountain, Clegg 57.4 46-37
15 King, Masters, Schlein, E Riss 56.7 50-39
Ipswich 3 pts. Edinburgh 0 pts.
Edinburgh 15 32
Glasgow 12 30
Ipswich 14 29
Sheffield 10 21
Workington 10 21
Redcar 13 21
Newcastle 11 19
Peterborough 10 12
Scunthorpe 15 11
Berwick 14 7