By Henry Chard
IPSWICH 51: Jason Crump 13, Jordan Stewart 1, Cameron Heeps 8+1, Jake Allen 6+1, Danny King © 9+2, Anders Rowe 7, Drew Kemp 7+2. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
SHEFFIELD 39: Troy Batchelor 5+1, Kyle Howarth © 10+2, Justin Sedgmen 6+1, Adam Ellis 16, James Wright 1+1, Josh Bates (RS) 1. Team Manager: Simon Stead
REFEREE: P. Carrington
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches recorded their first home win of the season after a convincing display against the Sheffield Tigers at Foxhall on Thursday night in the Premiership.
The hosts were able to track a full side for the first time this season after Jordan Stewart’s visa paperwork was completed allowing him to make his debut for the club but the visitors were without one of their star men with rider replacement in operation for the absent Jack Holder. The Witches started strongly, and the victory never looked in doubt as they gradually extended their lead over the 15 heats of racing. Jason Crump was top scorer for Ipswich with 13 points as he continues to find his top form back in British racing.
Crump flew from the outside gate to win heat one as the points were shared before Anders Rowe and Drew Kemp teamed up for a 5-1 in heat two to put the Witches ahead. Cameron Heeps was the early leader in heat three but it was a good ride by Tigers captain Kyle Howarth to get the better of him and take the win and with Jake Allen retiring with mechanical issues whilst in third on the opening lap, it was a 2-4 for the visitors. The Suffolk side hit back and dominated heat four from the start with Danny King and Kemp racing to a 5-1 to extend the lead to six points.
There was another good battle between Howarth and Heeps in heat six with the Ipswich man getting the early lead but once again it was the visiting skipper who reeled him in and made the pass on the third lap to deny a heat advantage to the hosts. Crump made it two wins from two with a victory in heat six before another cracking race in heat seven. Justin Sedgmen made the start, but Ipswich captain King chased him down and swooped round to take the lead on the third lap and deny Sheffield a 2-4. ‘Rising Star’ Kemp kept former Grand Prix rider Troy Batchelor at bay in heat eight for his first race win of the season with Stewart picking up his first point in Ipswich colours for a 4-2 that put the hosts eight points to the good.
Adam Ellis provided the best resistance for the away team on the night and he won heat nine ahead of the Ipswich pairing but there was no stopping Crump in heat 10 as he wound it on to pass Sedgmen at the start of the second lap and continue his unbeaten start to the night. Rowe and King romped home in heat 11 to extend the lead to 12 points before visiting manager Simon Stead put Ellis in heat 12 as a tactical substitute to try and salvage something from the tie. However, Heeps picked up his first win of the season to keep the Tigers at bay, leaving Ipswich on the brink of victory with three to race.
Ellis continued his impressive debut for Sheffield in a convincing heat 13 win as the away side clawed two points back and it looked like the visitors were going to record their first maximum of the evening in heat 14 before it was stopped. Josh Bates and Sedgmen made the gate but Bates got out of shape and hit the air fence on the second lap and was excluded from the re-run. Allen took advantage of the second chance and won the re-run storming under Sedgmen on the third bend of the opening lap. Ellis capped off an impressive night for himself by winning heat 15 but it was the home team that recorded a 51-39 victory that put them top of the Premiership table.
Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins reflects on Thursday’s win over the Tigers.
“I’m really happy, it was a great result and a solid team performance. I believe we are still capable of improving but it was a solid night.
“It was nice to see Crumpy top of the score charts, it has been a long time for him, so it is nice for everyone to see that! I wasn’t too worried about Drew’s performance last week but he definitely looked like he had got his first home meeting out of the way and he looked more like the rider we have seen in practice and I was pleased to see him get his first win. Cam improved and there is a lot more in him but when you look at our scoresheet and see how solid we were, that’s how we are going to need to be all season if we are to be successful.
“Jordy’s visa came through on Thursday, so it has been far from ideal preparation for him. I felt he improved massively in his third ride and certainly in his practice after the meeting. In a way it is good for him to get his first night nerves out of the way and maybe it was a bit like Drew last week. As soon as he gets more laps under his belt, he will be fine.”
RIDER OF THE NIGHT
Crump ‘rolled back the years’ as they say, topping the scores with 13 from five rides which included some lightning starts from the tapes and an impressive move in heat 10 to hit the front.
WHAT IT MEANS
Ipswich record their first win of 2021 at Foxhall and collect three points that puts them top of the Premiership table, Sheffield go away empty handed and remain on one league point after two away meetings so far this season.
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches travel to the West Midlands to face the Wolverhampton Wolves on Monday 31st May at the Ladbroke Stadium in a Premiership fixture. Tickets can be purchased here.