By Henry Chard
SHEFFIELD 56: Robert Lambert (G) 9+1, Kyle Howarth © 5+3, Chris Holder 11, Josh Pickering 8+2, Chris Harris (G) 9, Jye Etheridge (G) 9+1, Jason Edwards (RS) 5+1. Team Manager: Simon Stead
IPSWICH 34: Emil Sayfutdinov 11+1, Erik Riss 3, Danny King © 5, Keynan Rew 3+1, Jason Doyle 9+1, Danyon Hume 2+1, Joe Thompson (G) (RS) 1. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
REFEREE: J. McGregor
SPORTS INSURE PREMIERSHIP TABLE
First Leg: Ipswich 54-36 Belle Vue. Second Leg: Belle Vue 51-39 Ipswich
First Leg: Wolverhampton 40-50 Sheffield. Second Leg: Sheffield 39-21 Wolverhampton
First Leg: Ipswich 54-36 Sheffield. Second Leg: Sheffield 56-34 Ipswich
The Ipswich ‘Tru Mix’ Witches finished as Sports Insure Premiership runners-up after being defeated at Sheffield on Thursday night in the second leg of the play-off final.
The Suffolk side had an 18-point lead from the first leg at Foxhall on Tuesday and were once again fielding Joe Thompson for the injured Dan Thompson (dislocated shoulder) in the Rising Star position. The hosts were without Tobiasz Musielak (broken tibia), Tai Woffinden (broken bones in hand) and Claus Vissing (knee injury). For the second leg, the Tigers fielded two new guests from Tuesday’s first leg defeat with Chris Harris and Jye Etheridge coming in for Richard Lawson and Connor Mountain whilst Robert Lambert continued to deputise at number one.
The South Yorkshire outfit started strongly with the rain falling and found themselves 21-9 up after five races. The home team continued to dominate as the rain got harder, and they went ahead on aggregate by the end of heat 10. The visitors dug deep to fight back and level the aggregate score with two to race but the Tigers hit a 5-1 in heat 14 which proved enough to secure them the title. Emil Sayfutdinov top scored with 11+1.
Heat one was stopped as Kyle Howarth came off after being passed by Sayfutdinov for third and was awarded as a 3-3. Sheffield then hit a maximum in heat two and followed it up with 4-2s in heats three and four to put them 16-8 up on the night and reduce the aggregate score to 52-62.
The Tigers then hit another 5-1 in heat five before Jason Doyle stemmed the tide with a race win in a shared heat six. There was another 3-3 in heat seven as Keynan Rew battled hard to get a point having exchanged moves with Etheridge at the back. However, Sheffield recorded another maximum in heat eight to make it 32-16, putting them just two behind on aggregate.
Doyle led heat nine but was passed by Josh Pickering in a 3-3. Heat 10 was stopped as Danny King took a nasty fall on third turn of the opening lap, and he was excluded. The re-run ended in a 5-1 which put Sheffield ahead in the tie on aggregate. Sayfutdinov took victory in heat 11 as the visitors hit a 2-4 to level the tie overall. However, the hosts immediately went back in front with a 5-1 in heat 12 to give them a 47-25 lead in the second leg which made It 83-79 on aggregate with three to race.
The Witches dug deep in heat 13 as Sayfutdinov won and Doyle produced a quite stunning ride to not only stay on the bike after clouting the fence but to pass Harris to join his teammate for a maximum that levelled the tie. Guest Etheridge took the chequered flag in heat 14 as Pickering got the better of Rew for a 5-1 that put Sheffield on the brink of victory. Sayfutdinov finished the night with another three points but with Doyle relegated to the back it was Sheffield who lifted the Sports Insure Premiership trophy in the rain.
REACTION FROM THE PROMOTER
Ipswich ‘Tru Mix’ Witches promoter Chris Louis reflects on Thursday’s defeat to Sheffield.
“A few things have happened in the last few weeks and have been said which have been a bit disappointing and disillusioning, but I was very proud to watch Ritchie take the one to seven from press day through to a play-off final via a Knockout Cup victory. Every single one of them wore the Witch with pride and I am also proud to have the best fans and biggest support in the country.
“I’m obviously disappointed we couldn’t get the double over the line against a sort of pick ‘n’ mix Sheffield side with one remaining rider in Kyle Howarth, he must be quite proud to have survived it! The focus for me is on our team and what they achieved because they achieved a lot, and they did it as a team.
“I wouldn’t say the track was difficult, there was a period after the second break I think it was where the rain came down harder and yes, the track did get slippery, but the track stood up fine. I certainly wouldn’t use the track as an excuse for us not winning the tie overall. You can’t afford to start the way we started in a tie like that because it gets your heads down and the opposition’s heads up and we paid for that in the end. I was so proud of how the whole team fought and didn’t give in, having gone behind in the tie.
“I was gutted for Jason that he felt that he let the team down by running a last in heat 15 when he is a massive part of the reason why we are there in the first place. He can hold his head high and be proud of what he has done for the club in the last couple of years. I was gutted for him as it wasn’t the way I wanted to see his season end and he has absolutely no blame whatsoever.
“I’m positive about the team we have had and the way we have stuck together as a team and the way we battled in the final. I think people will draw their own conclusions from the tie overall but the emphasis for me is on what we achieved and how we did it.”
RIDER OF THE NIGHT
After a slow start by his standards, Sayfutdinov found his form and finished with 11+1 which included three race wins from his last three rides.
WHAT IT MEANS
Sheffield finish as Sports Insure Premiership champions after a 92-88 aggregate victory with Ipswich runners-up.
Digital Media Manager at Ipswich Speedway