Ipswich Witches closed the gap on Edinburgh Monarchs to three points at the top of the Championship as they powered to a convincing 50-39 victory at Foxhall Heath last night.
The Witches also retained their unbeaten home record but were made to work for their victory by a Monarchs side who boast a decent record at the East Suffolk venue.
Monarchs made a confident start to the meeting by sharing the first three heats, skipper Sam Masters second to Witches No.1 Danny King in the opener.
Reserve Max Clegg then made a quick start to take the chequered flag in heat two, the race over by the third bend of the first lap.
And Erik Riss triumphed in heat three, defeating former Monarch Justin Sedgmen, to keep the scores tied 9-9. And, at this early stage, Monarchs were keeping the Witches very much in check.
Then Ricky Wells and Mitchell Davey secured a 4-2 advantage in the fourth race to give Monarchs the lead at 13-11. Ipswich reserve Nathan Greaves caught Davey’s back wheel and came down heavily and was later withdrawn from the meeting.
There were two finishers only in the next race, Masters defeating Kyle Newman to increase Monarchs’ advantage to 16-13, but Ipswich hit back with a 4-2 of their own in the sixth heat to reduce their arrears to a single point, 18-17. But, in what was now developing into a see-saw battle, Monarchs claimed another 4-2 courtesy of Erik Riss, who had rediscovered his gating touch, and Josh Pickering, in heat seven to restore their three-point lead again, 22-19.
Ipswich then scored their first 5-1 of the match to snatch back the lead 24-23 in the eighth race, and they tellingly started to move up a gear with another 5-1 in the ninth race to stretch their advantage to five points 29-24.
Monarchs were now being outgunned from the tapes by the Witches, who were now turning the screw. Monarchs were now flailing on the ropes as the Witches rammed in their third 5-1 on the trot in heat ten which opened up a nine-point gap, 34-25. And Monarchs had now thrown away the good start they had made to the match thanks to some very poor gating from some. A 3-3 stopped the rot in heat 11 when Masters and Clegg tucked in behind Witches race winner Rory Schelin for a share of the spoils. Another 3-3 in the next maintained the Witches’ nine-point lead.
And two more shared races pushed the Witches over the winning line with one race left.
Monarchs promoter John Campbell, whose team host Redcar tonight, said: “We were beaten by the middle three races in the match when Ipswich graded the track in their favour. I felt we could have won it up until then but we were nowhere after that.”
Ipswich: King 12, Schlein 11, Sedgmen 8,Newman 7,Heeps 6, Mountain 4, Greaves 2.
Monarchs: Masters 11, E.Riss 9, Wells 7, Clegg 5, Pickering 2, M.Riss 2, Davey 1.