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Ipswich Witches v Swindon Robins Premiership final - Everything you need to know, plus Bacon's big prediction!

PUBLISHED: 06:00 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:43 13 October 2019

The Witches celebrate after Richard Lawson and James Sarjeant had raced to a 4-2 in heat 14, to secure an aggregate victory over Poole Pirates.     Picture: Steve Gardiner

The Witches celebrate after Richard Lawson and James Sarjeant had raced to a 4-2 in heat 14, to secure an aggregate victory over Poole Pirates. Picture: Steve Gardiner

© Copyright Stephen Waller

It's IPSWICH WITCHES v SWINDON ROBINS in the Premiership speedway play-off final... MIKE BACON takes a look at how he feels the final will pan out.

Danny King and Jake Allen join mechanics to celebrate Richard Lawson and James Sarjeant's 4-2 in heat 14, that secured the Witches qualification to the final of the play-offs.      Picture: Steve GardinerDanny King and Jake Allen join mechanics to celebrate Richard Lawson and James Sarjeant's 4-2 in heat 14, that secured the Witches qualification to the final of the play-offs. Picture: Steve Gardiner

OVERVIEW

It's the biggest domestic team prize in British Speedway - the Premiership League title - and it's the Witches versus the Robins for ultimate glory.

Four times the Witches have been league champions - 1975, 1976, 1984 and the last time, 1998, three times the Robins.

But it's in more recent times the Wiltshire side have been victorious, in 2017 and 2012, as well as 1967, while the Witches' last title success was that 1998 treble-winning 'super team'.

Swindon are the favourites for the title this year.

They finished the season in second place in the Premiership table before the play-offs, eight points ahead of Ipswich.

Swindon cruised past Wolverhampton in the other semi-final, living up to their favourites tag.

The latest averages show the Ipswich one to seven being on 41.43 and Swindon on 46.34 which would suggest a comfortable win for the Robins over two legs.

Cameron Heeps & Jake Allen celebrate in heat 8 of the Ipswich Witches v Poole Pirates play-off semi final. Picture: Steve GardinerCameron Heeps & Jake Allen celebrate in heat 8 of the Ipswich Witches v Poole Pirates play-off semi final. Picture: Steve Gardiner

Then again the Witches were big underdogs against Poole Pirates and pulled out all the stops in both meetings in the semi-final.

However, Swindon are a big juggernaut.

They have a powerful heat leader duo in Aussies Jason Doyle and Troy Batchelor, both flying high at the top of the British League averages. In Tobiasz Musielak and Rasmus Jensen, two solid second strings and young Adam Ellis, a former Witch - making it a potent top five.

The two teams have met four times so far in 2019 - Swindon winning four and the Witches twice.

Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins holds a pre-meeting team talk.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comWitches team manager Ritchie Hawkins holds a pre-meeting team talk. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

But this is a final and all that is reset.

Remember, the Witches blitzed the head-to-head stats against Poole in the semi-final - stats which were far worse for the Suffolk side, than against the Robins.

Ipswich's success has been built on the element of surprise.

The surprise being you never know which Witches are going to take a meeting by storm.

At one time or another every Witch has top-scored.

They have a terrific team spirit, great bond and now in recent signing Niels-Kirstian Iversen, a genuine out and out Grand Prix No.1 rider, who is capable of lowering the top Swindon boys.

The Witches can win this over two legs, make no bones about it.

They have beaten Swindon at home (twice) and lost by just two points in a Premiership clash at Blundson in July.

Niels-Kristian Iversen (red helmet) and Cameron Heeps (blue) lead Jason Doyle (white)and Adam Ellis in the opening heat.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comNiels-Kristian Iversen (red helmet) and Cameron Heeps (blue) lead Jason Doyle (white)and Adam Ellis in the opening heat. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

No, they are not favourites, but how many times has an underdog won in a final?

Both legs will be tight, tense and nervy.

A huge Foxhall crowd is likely to be in attendance on Monday and that certainly makes a difference to the homesters.

The Witches will never say how much of a lead they want from their home leg to take to Swindon on Thursday night.

Robins boss Alun Rossiter. Picture: Ian BurtRobins boss Alun Rossiter. Picture: Ian Burt

But I'm telling you, if they got a six-point lead, they would be happy, anything more will be fantastic, anything less will favour the Robins.

FOUR TO WATCH

Ipswich Witches

JAKE ALLEN - The Ipswich reserve has enjoyed a great season and to most commentators is the best reserve of the four on show between the two teams. Hopefully he won't need extra races to help out his team. But if he does and he is on form, he's a key man.

CHRIS HARRIS - This hasn't been his best season and Harris knows that. But he has never let his head go down at Ipswich and the play-offs, historically, are where he has come to the party. Oh, what the Witches would give for a Chris Harris 'special' meeting - or two.

Swindon Robins

JASON DOYLE - While many GP riders avoid England and pay the price on the GP stage, Swindon No.1 Doyle is magnificent in his professionalism and attitude. With his GP place for next season guaranteed, Doyle has little left to concentrate on - apart from putting the Witches to the sword!

Troy Batchelor in the pits. Picture: Ian BurtTroy Batchelor in the pits. Picture: Ian Burt

RASMUS JENSEN - Snapped up by the Robins on an average of just under five points, Jensen has upped that to 7.70 in three months! And that has been a huge reason the Robins are in the final. A big danger for the Witches, especially at Foxhall.

HISTORY

The Witches and the Robins are two of the oldest clubs in British Speedway, the Robins 70 years old, the Witches just one year younger.

The Robins have been represented by legends like Barry Briggs, Martin Ashby, Phil Crump, Leigh Adams and Mike Broadbanks, while the Witches can boast John and Chris Louis, Tony Rickardsson, Tomasz Gollob, Billy Sanders, Tony Davey, Scott Nicholls and Dennis Sigalos among many of their legends

FINAL LINE-UPS

Ipswich: NK Iversen, C Heeps, C Harris, R Lawson, D King, J Sargeant, J Allen.

Swindon: J Doyle, A Ellis, T Musielak, R Jensen, T Batchelor, E Perks, C Vissing.

HEAD TO HEAD

Ipswich v Swindon (Witches first)

IVERSEN...Sharp starter, experienced...8 versus DOYLE...Top all-round rider...9

HEEPS... Never-say-die, good passer... 7 versus ELLIS... Fast-starter, former Witch...7

HARRIS... Play-off specialist... 8 versus MUSIELAK... In current good form...7

LAWSON... In confident mood...7 versus JENSEN... Robins talisman...7

KING... Captain fantastic...7 versus BATCHELOR... Knows the ropes...8

SARJEANT... Never-say-die attitude...6 versus PERKS... Enjoying decent season...6

ALLEN... Witches ace in the pack?...9 versus VISSING... Experience the key...7

TOTAL: Witches 52, Robins 51

MIKE'S PREDICTION

1st leg: Witches 48 Robins 42.

2nd leg: Robins 47 Witches 43

Overall: Witches 91 Robins 89

OF COURSE THE WITCHES WILL WIN!

WHERE AND WHEN

Ipswich, Foxhall Stadium, Tuesday, October 15, 7.30pm

Swindon, Blundsdon, Thursday, October 17, 7.30pm

BOTH MEETINGS LIVE ON BT SPORT

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