Bandits hoping to bounce back in style after Witches weave magic

Ryan Blacklock is hoping to return after crash
Ryan Blacklock is hoping to return after crash

Berwick were dumped out of the KO Cup when they were beaten 101-79 on aggregate by the highly fancied Ipswich in their first-round tie.

The Witches dominated the first leg at Foxhall Heath on Thursday, building up a healthy 30-point advantage, and whilst the Bandits took some consolation from their eight-point victory in the return leg at Shielfield, there was no doubting the Suffolk side deserved to go through to the quarter-finals.

Berwick must now try to pick themselves up for their opening Championship league fixture of the season on Thursday, away to Sheffield.

Injured pair Dany Gappmaier and Ryan Blacklock both hope to return to the side for the visit to Owlerton.

Gappmaier missed both meetings against the Witches after taking a heavy fall against Newcastle the previous weekend, and he was replaced by guests Danny Ayres and Jack Parkinson-Blackburn over the two legs.

Blacklock, meanwhile, sustained suspected cracked ribs and a dislocated hip at Foxhall when he crashed through the safety barrier and ended up on the dog track.

“I had my hip popped back in and hopefully I will be able to ride at Sheffield,” he said.

Bandits then face Edinburgh in their first home league meeting of the season on Saturday before making a quick return trip to Newcastle to take on the Diamonds, also in the league, on Sunday.

“It’s a busy few days,” admitted manager Gary Havelock, “but the riders know what it’s all about. None of the meetings are easy and we will have to work hard to gain any reward, but that’s speedway.”

Ipswich 60

Berwick 30

Ipswich laid the foundations for their aggregate victory with a big 30-point win in the first leg at Foxhall Heath on Thursday.

The Witches were in total control with Rory Schlein racing to a full 15-point maximum and Danny King a 13+2 paid maximum. Two other riders, Nico Covatti and Cameron Heeps, were also both unbeaten in the three races they finished.

By contrast, the Bandits only had one race winner in the 15 heats – Liam Carr, who picked up his only points of the night in heat eight.

Ipswich: Schlein 15, King 13+2, Covatti 9, Heeps 8+1, Sarjeant 6+1, Mountain 5+1, Hume 4.

Berwick: Doolan 7, Vissing 5+1, Ayres (guest) 5+1, Bridger 5, Blacklock 3+1, Carr 3, Berge 2.

Berwick 49

Ipswich 41

In anticipation of the weather, the track had been covered earlier in the day, but a heavy shower after the covers were removed meant the surface was thick and heavy, particularly in the first few heats, and it took the riders a little while to find their feet.

By then, Berwick had established a six point lead on the night, courtesy in the main to an opening heat 5-1 from Lewis Bridger and Liam Carr, with Danny King retiring, a heat two win for guest Richard Hall (in for the injured Dany Gappmaier) and a heat three win for Claus Vissing over the all action Nico Covatti, who passed Dimitri Berge.

Rory Schlein, who had gone through the card at Foxhall 48 hours earlier, opened up with two wins in four and six and with Covattintaking the chequered flag in seven it meant the Witches were still on Berwick’s tail at 24-18.

After Carr won in heat eight, Schlein and Covatti continued to revel in the conditions in nine and ten before King finally got his act together in 11, going from third to first, passing Bandits’ skipper Kevin Doolan in the process, for a spectacular win.

Covatti won his third race in 12, and at this stage there were only two points between the sides on the night at 37-35.

However, Doolan produced a captain’s ride in 13 to hold off the chasing King, Bridger taking third with Schlien retiring after going unbeaten up to that point.

And when the impressive Hall and Vissing took a 5-1 in 14 it meant the Bandits were in an unassailable position in the meeting.

The tie had long since been lost, however, and King finished the night in style, avenging his earlier defeat to Doolan with a tapes to flag victory after charging through off the second bend.

Berwick: Doolan 10+1, Vissing 9+2, Bridger 9+1, Hall 8, Carr 6+2, Berge 5, Parkinson-Blackburn 2+2.

Ipswich: Covatti 11, King 10, Schlein 9, Sarjeant 5+1, Mountain 3+1, Heeps 2, Hume 1.