Witches cast a spell as gate-shy Bandits lose at home to Ipswich

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Berwick Bandits 40

Ipswich Witches 50

by Keith Hamblin

at Shielfield Park

WHEN these sides last met at Shielfield in the first phase fixtures back in June, Berwick rattled off their biggest win of the season (62-28) . . . but it was a completely different story this time around.

Ipswich looked a far more competent team - more like the championship favourites as predicted by pundits at the start of the season - and they avenged their previous mauling with a classy and thoroughly deserved victory.

The fact that all six riders they had on display won at least one race, shows just how much strength in depth they had.

And the Witches certainly looked as if they had cast a spell over the Bandits at the starting gate as they constantly outgated the home side throughout the course of the meeting.

Once in front it was difficult to pass and it was only some determined riding by Lee Complin and Sebastian Alden in heats seven and ten, when they both went from third to first, which injected some real excitement into proceedings and helped keep the match alive from a Berwick perspective.

For the Bandits, who eventually went down to their second home league defeat of the season, it wasn’t their best night.

No rider won more than one race, Mitchell Davey had another pointless night at reserve, and Kozza Smith was twice struck by the mechanical gremlins.

Only once in the entire meeting did they find themselves in front (25-23 after heat eight), but Ipswich hit straight back andwent on to emerge comfortable victors.

The meeting came just a week after Berwick recorded one of their biggest ever away victories at Plymouth and it prompted captain Lee Complin to explain to the crowd afterwards: “We would just like to apologise to the fans.

“We want everyone to know that we were trying as hard as we could, and as a team the riders are just as disappointed as the management and the supporters at the result.”

Team manager Ian Rae added: “Ipswich were far sharper than us from the gate and that was where the meeting was effectively won and lost. Ipswich are a quality side, we knew it would be a difficult meeting and we congratulate them on a fine victory.”

A 1-5 from Mathieu Tresarrieu and Kevin Doolan in heat one and a 2-4 from guest Ashley Birks and Jerran Hart in two meant the visitors got off to the perfect start, finding themselves 3-9 in front.

Josef Franc and Kozza Smith tried to redesss the balance with a Berwick 5-1 in three, but it wasn’t until Swedish pair Ludvig Lingren and Alden took a 5-1 in six that the Bandits managed to get themselves back on level terms.

Prior to that Lasse Bjerre and Doolan had taken the chequered flags in each of the two previous races and when Hart unexpectedly popped out of the gate to head Franc home in nine, levelling the scores up again at 27-all, it was clear this was a meeting which was going right to the wire.

By this stage it was obvious Ipswich were gunning for the win and they finished by far the stronger, with two wins from Morten Risager in 11 and 14 virtually setting the seal on their victory.

The very impressive Bjerre (twice) and Tresarrieu also took the chequered flag in the run-in.

Berwick found themselves in a position of needing two 5-1s from the last two races just to force a draw, but Risager’s second win in 14 put paid to that and in the end the Suffolk side left with all four match points to their credit.

Berwick - L Complin 10, J Franc 9, J Mudgway 7+2, S Alden 5+1, L Lingren 5, K Smith 4+1, M Davey 0.

Ipswich - L Bjerre 13, M Tresarrieu 11, K Doolan 9+2, M Risager 8+2, J Hart 6, A Birks 3, T Poole rider rep.

* THIS Saturday (August 20) Berwick take on old rivals Newcastrle in another second phase meeting at Shielfield.

The Diamonds have already visited the Border track twice this season (when they have recorded one win and one defeat), and despite an unlucky run of form with injuries are still expected to test the Bandits to the full