Ipswich Witches column: Ritchie Hawkins’ side face crucial week in Premiership ahead of fixtures against King’s Lynn and Wolverhampton
Ipswich Witches face the most crucial week of their season so far, as they head to King’s Lynn and Wolverhampton in the next few days in their desperate chase for points – and a play-off spot.
The Witches are the Premiership’s in-form team with five wins on the spin – a record that has seen them hunt down a play-off top four place.
Too many dropped points at the start of the campaign have meant Ritchie Hawkins’ side are having to play catch-up for that play-off spot. But catch-up they are doing.
Tomorrow night’s clash at Lynn will see Ipswich with the chance to whitewash their Norfolk rivals with a fourth win over the Stars this season.
The home side have been rocked by the injury to their captain Nicolai Klindt, who suffered back injuries in an horrific crash in Poland at the weekend. Klindt has been the Stars shining light in what has been a disappointing season for them.
Last week at Foxhall, Klindt top-scored for the visitors as Ipswich ran out 51-39 winners over the Stars in front of a bumper Foxhall crowd.
It was the Witches fifth win on the spin, although the night was dampened somewhat by a dislocated shoulder injury to Ipswich youngster, Dan Thompson.
He crashed out in heat two and is set to be on the sidelines for a few weeks.
Witches team boss, Hawkins said: “The loss of Dan was a massive blow to us.
“To pick up an injury when you are hitting the best form of your life is really disappointing for him. Hopefully it isn’t too severe, he is young, and I know he will work hard to make sure he recovers as quickly as he can. He will come back stronger.”
Last week’s meeting also saw the Foxhall Heath track record lowered by Emil Sayfutdinov in heat one of the clash with the Stars.
The flying Russian took .4 seconds off the previous record, setting a new time of exactly 55 seconds for four laps round the Ipswich circuit.
Sayfutdinov has been in brilliant form all season for Ipswich – he smashed the Leicester track record earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, after tomorrow night, the Witches head to Wolverhampton on Monday, before returning to Foxhall on Thursday, August 24, for what could be their final Premiership clash of the regular season – this time against Leicester Lions.
Jason Doyle got his Grand Prix season back on track with a solid performance in the Grand Prix of Latvia on Saturday.
The Ipswich ace and Aussie skipper just missed out on a final place but picked up 12 points to lift him into fourth in the overall standings behind leader Bartosz Zmarzlik, Freddie Lindgren and Martin Vaculik.
For Doyle, the 2017 world champion, this year’s Grand Prix has seen a huge improvement in his performances after a disappointing 2022, after which he had to rely on a wildcard pick for a place in this season’s competition.
The next Grand Prix of the year is the big one – the British GP at Cardiff – on Saturday, September 2.
It wasn’t to be for Witches skipper Danny King in the British Final at Belle Vue on Monday night.
The Ipswich man suffered a fall and a last place, in what turned into a disappointing night for him, as he failed to make the top six and a chance at a tilt at a title, he won back in 2016.
On a rain-soaked Manchester circuit, King began well with a win and a second in his first two races. But a last place, followed by his fall, saw his British Championship dreams over for another year.
Another Witch, Danyon Hume, also took part in the meeting. The Ipswich reserve picked up two points but will have gained plenty of experience from being part of the event, leading one race for a couple of laps in one heat, to show he has the potential.
Admission for fans on race night at Foxhall: Adults (17+) £22, concessions (65+) £20, children (16 and under) free, car parking is also free.
Thurs., Aug 17, King’s Lynn (away), 7.30pm Prem
Mon., Aug 21, Wolverhampton (away), 7.30pm Prem
THURS., Aug 24, LEICESTER (HOME) 7.30pm PREM
(Top 4 into play-offs)
Team P Pts
Belle Vue 21 38
Leicester 17 29
Wolves 17 29
Ipswich 21 27
Sheffield 16 24
King’s Lynn 18 7
Peterborough 18 5