By Henry Chard
IPSWICH 52: Cameron Heeps 12+1, Richard Lawson 11+2, Krystian Pieszczek 8, Danny King © 6+2, Rory Schlein (g) 6+1, Jake Allen 5+3, David Bellego 4+1. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
BELLE VUE 38: Kenneth Bjerre 16, Steve Worrall 9+2, Max Fricke © 6, Ricky Wells 6, Dimitri Berge 1, Dan Bewley 0, Jaimon Lidsey 0. Team Manager: Mark Lemon
REFEREE: C. Gay
VENUE: Foxhall Stadium
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches opened their Premiership campaign with a dominant 52-38 victory over the Belle Vue Aces on Thursday night at Foxhall.
Despite an opening heat 5-1 to the visitors it was the Witches who controlled the meeting as they got the bulk of the work done early on, building up a 12-point advantage by heat eight. The hosts added to that lead and saw the meeting out in comfortable fashion to start their league season in the best way possible. Cameron Heeps was once again the top Witch scoring 12+1 from reserve.
The away side gated in heat one as Max Fricke and Steve Worrall coasted to a 5-1 and it looked like being a tough night for the Suffolk side. However, the home side hit back immediately in heat two as Heeps and Jake Allen levelled the scores with a maximum heat advantage. There was a third 5-1 in heat three and it went the way of the Witches again as Krystian Pieszczek and Richard Lawson were quickest out of the gate and couldn’t be caught, giving the Witches an 11-7 lead.
It looked like being yet another Witches 5-1 in heat four as Danny King and Allen made the gate, but Kenneth Bjerre split the pair by passing the Australian reserve on the second lap, meaning a 4-2 to Ipswich. Lawson won heat five ahead of Fricke and Pieszczek made his way into third with an impressive pass on Worrall coming out of the second turn on the second lap to give the home team another heat advantage. Bjerre won his first heat of the night in heat six by some distance as the points were shared, leaving the Witches 22-14 up.
The 5-1’s were back in heat seven as King and Heeps cruised to a maximum to extend the home side’s lead. Worrall was the winner in heat eight but with David Bellego and Allen both in the points the Aces could not claw any points back. Bjerre was looking quick and won again in heat nine as he beat Pieszczek and Lawson in a shared heat that left the Witches leading 33-21.
It looked like game over for the away side following heat 10 as Heeps came in to replace Bellego and went on to team up with Ipswich guest Rory Schlein for another 5-1 to put them 16 points ahead. Heat 11 was won by Worrall, but it was the fight for second that will live long in the memory. Fricke held second early on for the Aces but Heeps had other ideas. The Aussie duo would go on to pass and re-pass each other countless times throughout the heat, going bar to bar down the straights in an epic battle. Heeps finally made it stick to take second ahead of the Australian champion and although that meant a 4-2 to the Aces the Foxhall fans were on their feet to applaud their man’s efforts. The Witches confirmed their victory in heat 12, Bjerre came in as a tactical substitute and won again for the away side but Lawson and Heeps, who had come in for Allen, both went by Dimitri Berge for a 3-3 that made the score 43-29 with three to race.
Bjerre was in fine form and won again in heat 13 but Schlein and King were both in the points for a share of the spoils. Ricky Wells won heat 14 ahead of Pieszczek and Allen as the run of 3-3’s continued. The night ended with another good race as Lawson held off Bjerre to win a shared heat that gave the Witches a 52-38 win and three Premiership points.
It seems like we could just copy and paste this at the moment, but it was Heeps who once again caught the eye. The Australian reserve has started the season in stunning form and scored 12+1 from six rides and provided the highlight of the night, winning his battle for second against Fricke in a fantastic race in heat 11.
It may seem strange to pick a 4-2 to the Aces as a key moment but heat 11 was one to remember. The Witches were 16 points ahead going into the heat, which Worrall won for the away side. However, the fight for second was a joy to watch. Fricke held second early on and a 5-1 to the Aces could have given them confidence to mount a fightback but the man of the moment Heeps wasn’t to be denied. The Witches man and the Aces number one threw their bikes at each other for four laps in one of the best heats seen at Foxhall for some time. Heeps came out on top to the delight of the home fans and it showed that it would take something special to deny a Witches win on the night.
WHAT IT MEANS…
The Witches pick up three league points that puts them top of a very early league table on points difference. The Aces begin their league season with a defeat and are pointless after one meeting.
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches travel to the Abbey Stadium on Monday 22nd April to take on Swindon in a Premiership Supporters Cup clash.
AROUND THE TRACKS…
Poole claimed a 45-45 draw at Swindon on Thursday night in Ipswich’s Supporters Cup group.
Click here for reaction from team manager Ritchie Hawkins.