Ipswich Witches column: A professional performance at Peterborough sees side through to KO Cup final
Ipswich Witches are through to the KO Cup final after a thoroughly professional performance at Peterborough on Monday night.
The Suffolk side lost 42-48 in the second leg at Alwalton but won easily on aggregate 99-81. They now face Sheffield Tigers in the final in a fortnight – the Tigers having made team changes in recent weeks that sees them now include world champions Tai Woffinden and Chris Holder.
And if that wasn’t enough to whet the appetite for the month ahead for Ipswich fans, the Witches are right back in the hunt for a play-off spot, needing to win against King’s Lynn on Monday night in Norfolk and hoping out-of-form Leicester Lions lose their two remaining Premiership fixtures – away at Wolves and Peterborough.
But back to the KO Cup and Ipswich’s aggregate victory at the East of England Arena, where team boss Ritchie Hawkins was delighted with the overall win.
“It was a good performance again against a strong Peterborough team. We didn’t let ourselves get into a position to worry and I left the meeting very happy with the team,” he said.
“It is nice to see Keynan (Rew) and Erik (Riss) doing well and I thought Danyon (Hume) rode better than his two points, everyone contributed.
“We have got a date now with a new-look Sheffield team in the final in two weeks and I’m sure everyone will look forward to that. We haven’t won the cup for a long time, and we are in good form and in a good position to go and win it.”
Last Thursday the Witches saw off Leicester at Foxhall in front of another big home crowd.
The Lions kept the meeting close in the first eight races, aided by an exclusion to Ipswich No.1 Emil Sayfutdinov in heat one after he brought Richie Worrall crashing to the ground, before the Witches pulled away to pick up three points that were vital in their play-off chase.
Jason Doyle grabbed a paid maximum and team boss Hawkins had this praise for the Aussie ace: “It was another superb performance from Jason (Doyle).
“It was brilliant to see as ever, and he has been so good for us. This is his second year with us, and he has been terrific throughout.
“He didn’t have to shoot off after the meeting either, he often must, but it was great to see him out there at 10pm in the car park with all the fans chatting to people and signing autographs.
“I’m sure all the fans showed the appreciation they have for him and how loved he is here at Ipswich.”
Witches skipper Danny King has admitted he is his own worst critic even though his average has increased this season.
King has put nearly half a point on his average, but always demands more. However, he is hoping the upcoming KO Cup final against Sheffield can see him pick up a long-awaited trophy for the Foxhall side.
“Yes, my average has gone up this season, but I’m always critical of myself,” he said.
“I say it all the time, everyone knows what Ipswich means to me. I would love to win something with the club. I want to be at Ipswich, and I want to win. We have the cup final now – and we are now still very much in the play-off picture.”
It’s the British Grand Prix at Cardiff on Saturday night (5pm) with Ipswich’s Jason Doyle looking to continue his bright 2023 GP series – and win what is recognised in the sport as the GP to win.
Doyle has already booked his place in the 2024 GP series after winning the Grand Prix Challenge in Sweden recently. He can go into the Cardiff meeting in relaxed mood, with victory very much his aim.
Bartosz Zmarzlik is currently 22 points ahead of Freddie Lindgren at the top of the standings and, with three rounds to go, including Cardiff, is hot favourite to retain his world champion crown.
But it’s tight a bit further down the order with Martin Vaculik currently third (85), Doyle fourth on 81, while Dan Bewley is Britain’s top man in sixth place on 78, one point behind Jack Holder, who is currently out injured.
Admission for fans on race night at Foxhall: Adults (17+) £22, concessions (65+) £20, children (16 and under) free, car parking is also free.
Monday September 4, King’s Lynn (Away) 7.30pm Premiership
Week commencing September 11 – KO Cup final, 2 legs, Witches v Sheffield, dates TBC
(Top 4 into play-offs)
Team P Pts
Belle Vue 24 44
Wolves 12 35
Sheffield 21 32
Leicester 22 32
IPSWICH 23 31
King’s Lynn 21 9
Peterborough 20 8