Cameron Heeps joins local rivals, as Witches head to Sheffield
- Credit: Steve Waller -www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Witches travel to Sheffield Tigers tonight looking to get their season back on track. MIKE BACON takes a look at how it could pan out.
The Witches have lost their last five meetings. And there is no getting away from the fact they need to turn their fortunes around - and soon.
It's a shortened 20-meeting league season and after tonight the Witches will have ridden nine of those 20 meetings. Up to now they have only won twice.
It was all going relatively well until Jason Crump's big crash at Wolverhampton which, although wouldn't have made any difference to the result at Monmore Green that fateful May evening, has affected the team with his absence since because of broken ribs. He'll be missing again tonight - Wolves' Nick Morris guests.
HEEPS JOINS LYNN
Meanwhile, Cameron Heeps has joined King's Lynn. The young Aussie was dropped from the Ipswich team after suffering a shoulder injury. But he is replacing Ty Proctor at Lynn from July 1.
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ALWAYS ON A THURSDAY
The Witches and the Tigers have met many times over the years, especially in the old Division One.
Both are Thursday night tracks and therefore it invariably means a blank week for one of them having a home fixture when the other one visits.
Ipswich don't have an especially good record at the fast Owlerton bowl and the Tigers defeated the Witches in the 2017 Championship play-off final after the 16-point win in their home leg proved enough to hold onto at Foxhall.
Craig Cook has settled into Ipswich well.
The former King's Lynn rider who left the Norfolk Arena after just two meetings rode well on his Foxhall debut for the Witches against Peterborough two weeks ago and won a couple of races at Alwalton on Monday night.
It's a good sign for Cook and Ipswich that the former Grand Prix ace is looking sharp. The Witches are going to need all the points they can get from him in the second half of the season. Owlerton should suit his style.
Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins had this to say about the clash.
"Sheffield are a good team and it is a tough place to go but we are quite capable ourselves if we perform to our abilities. We need to build on Monday’s performance and if we do that, I’m sure we will pick up a lot of points.
"We are capable of going well there and we need to go there with the focus of winning because at some point we are going to have to start winning away meetings if we want to make the play-offs whilst obviously picking up our home form. We need to win somewhere, and we will go there looking to do that, why not?”
Sheffield’s season is yet to really gather pace with the club having suffered three postponements already due to the weather. They are currently fifth in the table having only raced four fixtures, but they have won their one and only home fixture so far against Wolves.
The home side boast a powerful top end with Troy Batchelor, Jack Holder and Adam Ellis leading the side. Ellis recently booked his place in the GP Challenge as he aims to qualify for next year’s Grand Prix series.
RACE NIGHT LIVE!
Mike Bacon will be at Owlerton tonight and will bring you all the live updates from Sheffield. Just head over to the EADT or Ipswich Star websites around 7pm, or follow Mike on Twitter @mike_bacon
STATS AND FACTS
SHEFFIELD: 1. Troy Batchelor 8.63 2. Kyle Howarth 5.86 © 3. Adam Ellis 6.49 4. Justin Sedgmen 4.00 5. Jack Holder 7.75 6. James Wright 3.00 7. Kyle Bickley (RS). Team Manager: Simon Stead
IPSWICH: 1. Nick Morris (g) 8.00 2. Paul Starke 4.27 3. Danny King 6.85 © 4. Jake Allen 5.70 5. Craig Cook 7.59 6. Anders Rowe 3.00 7. Drew Kemp (RS). Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
REFEREE: C. Ackroyd
Peterborough 6 15
Belle Vue 5 13
Wolverham'on 5 10
Ipswich 8 8
Sheffield 4 4
King's Lynn 4 3