By Henry Chard
When and where
East of England Arena & Events Centre: Sunday 17th June, 5.00pm
Peterborough: 1. Scott Nicholls 7.74 2. Ellis Perks 4.95 3. Bradley Wilson Dean 5.90 4. Michael Palm Toft 6.68 5. Ulrich Ostergaard 7.41 6. Simon Lambert 4.80 © 7. Tom Bacon 3.03. Team Manager: Carl Johnson
Ipswich: 1. Rory Schlein 9.08 2. Cameron Heeps 6.57 3. Nico Covatti 6.30 4. Georgie Wood (g) 5.20 5. Danny King 9.05 © 6. Connor Mountain 3.58 7. Danyon Hume 3.74. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
Referee: G. Reeve
Championship Shield table
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches travel to local rivals Peterborough on Sunday for a Championship Shield fixture. The original fixture was one of many all over the country that was postponed over Easter due to the awful weather and the second attempt to stage the meeting was also a wash out. The Witches’ hopes of qualification from the group were shattered at Foxhall after they were defeated 44-45 by Lakeside back in April. The Witches are fully focused on their Championship league campaign now and will use this weekend’s fixture as good practice for the league meeting later this season. Despite the meeting not meaning anything, the team will be keen to build up momentum after a good win last time out against champions Sheffield. Michael Härtel is missing again as he already had prior commitments ahead of the fixture being re-arranged and Georgie Wood comes in as a National League guest.
The Panthers still harbour hopes of qualifying for the next stage by taking the best runners-up spot and need a win from this meeting. Former Witch Scott Nicholls spearheads the new look side in 2018 despite winning the Championship Fours and Knockout Cup in 2017. There have been plenty of changes to the Panthers side already this season as Bradley Wilson-Dean returns to the club to replace the injured Nike Lunna. Edward Kennett was also brought in to replace the injured Emil Grondal but then suffered injury himself with Ellis Perks coming in to complete the side.
One to watch
Ulrich Ostergaard is in his fifth consecutive season with the club and won the Elite League with the Panthers in 2006. The Dane has started 2018 well and was key in his side’s win at Foxhall scoring 10+1. The 37-year-old is an experienced rider and the home side will need him to perform against the Witches heat leaders if the Panthers are to get the win.
From the boss…
‘Tru Plant’ Witches Team Manager Ritchie Hawkins previews Sunday’s meeting.
“We are out of the competition but it is a chance for the boys to put on a good performance. We need it as you don’t want to finish the group with no points. We had a good performance last Thursday and we need to carry on from that and put on a good show.
“If they win they will get through as best runners-up, so they will be going for it but we want to win the meeting. It is not about anything else for us other than winning. The boys need to earn some money and put on a good show because we don’t want to finish with zero points, that’s embarrassing.
“If we can go there and have a good competitive meeting it prepares us well for when we go back there in the league. It is our local rivalry too and we want to get in good form and build momentum and everyone in the team needs to show what they have got.
“It was unfortunate we were in the group with one less team but I think having the competition at the start of the year is good but it needs to be done and dusted at the start and that is just not going to happen, it needs to be finished by now.”
After exiting the Championship Shield and the Knockout Cup early on, the Witches are now fully focused on the league and have started in encouraging fashion. Ipswich collected two points after a draw at Newcastle last month before being defeated at Berwick. The Witches beat Sheffield last time out and looked on the way to returning to their top form. The Panthers beat Glasgow at home last time out after picking up a point in the away leg following a 47-43 defeat at Ashfield two days earlier. Prior to that, they recorded a 49-41 win over Newcastle at home in the Championship.
What happened last time?
The last time these two sides met in Cambridgeshire was in last season’s Knockout Cup final first leg. After Rory Schein was withdrawn following a crash in his first ride, the five-man Witches side battled back to lose by just four points in a 47-43 defeat. Danny King top scored with 13 with Cameron Heeps impressing with 12.
The Panthers are sponsored by T. Balfe Construction and race in red, black and white kevlars. They race at the East of England Arena & Events Centre on Sunday and Friday evenings on the fast 336 metre track where Krzysztof Kasprzak holds the track record of 58.4 seconds set in September 2010. An adult ticket costs £16, Concessions (Over 65s and students) £13, Juniors (aged 10 to 16) £5, Children (under 10s) Free. A programme costs £3. For more details and how to find them visit their website here: http://www.peterboroughpanthers.co