Ipswich Witches: Ritchie Hawkins’ side produce stunning performance to beat Leicester Lions in big Premiership clash
Ipswich Witches produced a stunning performance and their best of the season as they humbled Leicester Lions 37-53 on their own track in a Premiership clash on Monday night.
Second-placed Lions were eight unbeaten at home going into the meeting and were searching for an historic ninth home victory on the bounce.
But, in a meeting being screened live on Eurosport, the Witches were ruthless, despite going behind early on.
Led by maximum man Jason Doyle, and team-mate Emil Sayfutdinov, who dropped just one point, the Witches produced some outstanding gating and passing as the home side had no answers.
And while captain Danny King chipped in with an impressive 10 points, it was reserve, Dan Thompson, who was the star of the show.
The former Leicester youngster, who was dropped by the Lions earlier in the season, came back to haunt them with an impressive paid 13-point haul, his best-ever for the Witches, as the teenager continues to improve.
It all left Ipswich team manager, Ritchie Hawkins delighted: “It was a brilliant performance and a great result,” he said.
“Leicester have been in good form, but we turned up there and the majority of the team rode to their capabilities which hasn’t happened too often this season.
“I think we have a couple of riders who have come into better form of late, Danny (King) has got going again which really helps support the top two. Dan Thompson put in an outstanding performance tonight and he has got better every meeting.
“You can see his confidence has grown so much since the British Under-21 Final and having your number seven score paid 13 from five rides makes you a strong team.
“Jason Doyle was terrific, as was Emil (Sayfutdinov) again tonight.
“Jason has had maybe a couple of tough nights by his high standards of late, but he is never that far off really. He has been at the top for so long and it is a joy to watch them ride when they are riding like that.
“One thing that was a massive difference was that after the interval we kicked on and were superb whereas previously we have always dropped away at that point so that was a massive difference."
The Witches continue a current busy spell with another Premiership clash, away at King’s Lynn, tomorrow night, 7.30pm start.
Ipswich still sit just outside the play-off picture and have ridden more meetings than most sides around them. But should they upset the Stars in their own back yard, and then win at basement side, Peterborough on Monday night, they could still be in with an outside chance of a top-four place.
The Lynn clash will see Russia’s top racers, Emil Sayfutdinov and Artem Laguta, go head-to-head for the second time this season – while the two will meet once more at Foxhall Stadium tomorrow week as the Stars come to Ipswich for the return Premiership meeting on Thursday, August 10.
Sayfutdinov and Laguta have won the Speedway of Nations pairs event three times in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and are both big rivals as well as superb racers.
Laguta was world champion in 2021, the same year Sayfutdinov was third. Their clashes over the next eight days, at Lynn and Ipswich, will be fascinating.
Jason Doyle’s World Cup ended with a fourth-place finish in Wroclaw, Poland at the weekend.
The Ipswich star was the Australian captain, but the Aussies had to fight their way into the final, via the Race-Off after losing out to Denmark in the second semi-final.
However, in the final itself they were competitive, with only a bad crash for Jack Holder as the meeting came to a finale, denying them a possible rostrum place.
It was Poland who ran out victors, beating a spirited Great Britain team, who put in a very impressive performance to finish runners-up, in the last heat of the final.
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 3 King’s Lynn (away) 7.30pm Prem
Mon., Aug 7 Peterborough (away) 7.30pm Prem
THURS., AUG 10 KING’S LYNN (HOME) 7.30pm PREM
(Top 4 into play-offs)
Team P Pts
Belle Vue 20 35
Leicester 15 27
Wolves 16 27
Sheffield 14 22
Ipswich 18 19
King’s Lynn 16 7
Peterborough 17 5