Witches fail again in another last heat decider - seven defeats on the bounce
- Credit: Steve Waller -www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Witches slipped to their seventh defeat on the bounce as their Premiership play-off hopes took a huge dent with defeat at home to Wolverhampton tonight by 41 points to 49
The Suffolk side welcomed back three-time world champion Jason Crump to their side after an almost two-month lay-off.
But he was clearly still in some discomfort after his eight broken rib injury as he struggled to just three points and with other Witches off-form this was the most disappointing defeat of the season for the Witches.
Only skipper Danny King showed anything like top form, while reserve Paul Starke had some bright moments, as did Anders Rowe. But quite frankly this wasn't good enough and Ipswich are going to need one heck of second half of the season to make the play-offs after this.
Wolves were sharper from the tapes and even produced more passes out track as the Witches put in a poor effort in front of the Eurosport TV cameras.
The result means the Witches have won just two of their opening 10 Premiership meetings - nowhere near good enough for a top four play-off finish.
Luke Becker went through the tapes in heat one and went off 15 metres back. He couldn't make headway as Sam Masters won the opener in a shared first heat.
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The Witches took the lead in the next as Starke and Drew Kemp shot to the front and were never headed, despite Broc Nicol having a dabble at Kemp on the first lap.
Jake Allen went through the tapes at the start of heat three after a warning first time, and was replaced by Starke. In the re-run Ryan Douglas hit the deck and bizarrely in the next re-run, Douglas and King were down. Again it was all four back.
This time King got away as Starke held off Douglas, before the Wolves man fell again, but cleared the track.
Rory Schlein won the Wolves first race of the night to cut the Witches lead to four at 14-10. Becker passed both Witches in thrilling fashion as Wolves brought the scores level.
Rowe flew from the outside in heat six to win well as Crump was passed by Schlein, while Cook had to pass Douglas to stop a Wolves maximum as the scores tied at 21-a-piece.
Leon Flint won the next as the scores stayed level, Wolves had won four of the last five races. Schlein was the next through the tapes in heat nine.
Crump's place in heat 10 was taken by Starke and, in a ding-dong race, Morris got past Rowe, with Douglas at the front as the scores levelled.
Masters and Becker struck a maximum in the next but King was the Witches riding well and he won the next, before Crump re-appeared in heat 13, but he and Cook could do nothing to stop another Wolves maximum.
It looked all over but King and a last-gasp pass by Allen on Flint kept the pot boiling for yet another last heat decider in a Witches clash. But Schlein and Masters, who was brilliant all night and unbeaten, romped to an easy victory.
Ipswich: J Crump 3+1, A Rowe 7, D King 13, J Allen 2, C Cook 6, D Kemp 2+1, P Starke 8+1.
Wolves: S Masters 14+1, L Becker 4+2, N Morris 8, R Douglas 6, R Schlein 10+1, B Nicol 1, L Flint 6.