Ipswich 44: Danny King © 14, Rory Schlein 11, Michael Härtel 5+1, Cameron Heeps 5+1, Nico Covatti 5, Connor Mountain 3+1, Danyon Hume 1+1
Peterborough 46: Michael Palm Toft 11+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 10+1, Scott Nicholls 8+1, Emil Grondal 6+1, Tom Bacon 5, Nike Lunna 3+2, Simon Lambert © 3
Championship Shield table
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches endured a disappointing start to the season, losing 44-46 at home to the Peterborough Panthers in the Championship Shield.
The home side could not build more than a four point lead on the night as the Panthers kept things tight and after a mid-meeting 5-1 to the away side the Witches could not recover and turn things around as Peterborough took all the points, leaving the Witches with it all to do to progress from the group stage. Danny King top scored with 14 for the Suffolk side.
As was so often the case in 2017, captain King came out in heat one and took the chequered flag ahead of Emil Grondal with Michael Härtel picking up his first point in Witches colours to give the home side an early 4-2 as Scott Nicholls finished at the back. The away side repaid the compliment in heat two as Tom Bacon won ahead of Connor Mountain and captain Simon Lambert took third to level the scores as Danyon Hume fell early on but remounted. Rory Schlein took the honours in heat three and was joined by compatriot Cameron Heeps early on but the Witches number four was passed by Michael Palm Toft coming out of the second turn on the second lap, limiting the home side to a 4-2 which put them back ahead. Hume made the gate in heat four but couldn’t prevent Ulrich Ostergaard from hitting the front in the first shared heat of the season to leave the home side 13-11 up.
Schlein continued his strong start to the night with another win in heat five ahead of Nicholls and Heeps got into the points on the second lap passing Grondal for third to extend the lead to four points. Ostergaard was also enjoying a good start to the evening and he beat King in heat six as the points were shared. Palm Toft won heat seven ahead of Nico Covatti with Nike Lunna picking up a point to reduce the Witches’ lead to just two points as Mountain fell on the second lap on the third bend. Härtel got his first win in Witches kevlars in heat eight after passing both Panthers coming out of the second bend but it was a shared heat that left the Suffolk side 25-23 up.
Ostergaard was in fine form on the night and won again in heat nine holding off Schlein to win in a shared heat. King won heat 10 as the sides could not be separated leaving the home side just two points up heading into the interval. It was the away side who returned the better after the interval as they took the lead in the meeting following a 5-1 courtesy of Grondal and Nicholls. Schlein won heat 12 but a shared heat still left the Witches with work to do as the away side held a 37-35 lead with three heats to go.
King was a winner again in heat 13 but with both Panthers in the points it was another shared heat that left the home side with just two heats to turn things around. Lambert was a faller on the first turn of heat 14 and was excluded from the re-run, giving the Witches a lifeline. However, the home side could not take advantage although Heeps and Mountain were at the front early on, Palm Toft found a gap going into first turn of the second lap to take the win to keep the away side ahead going into the final heat. It looked as though the home side may salvage something from the night as King and Schlein made the gate but the latter was passed by both Nicholls and Palm Toft to give the away side a 46-44 win and three Championship Shield points.
West Property Management Rider of the Night
Schlein was the meeting sponsors’ pick for rider of night after picking up 11 points from his four programmed rides.
The home side had their noses in front until heat 11 when Grondal and Nicholls recorded a maximum to put their side two ahead. That put the Witches under pressure with just four heats to go and they could not respond as the visitors saw out the victory.
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches are back in action on Friday 13th April when they travel to the Arena Essex Raceway to face Lakeside Hammers in the Championship Shield.