Scorpions pipped in closing stages
HENDERSON INSURANCE Scunthorpe Scorpions almost ended their ‘hoodoo’ against high-flying Ipswich Witches at the Eddie Wright Raceway yesterday (Sunday), but were pipped after a brilliant display by former British Champion Danny King, slipping to a 43-47 defeat despite holding a six-point advantage with four races remaining.
In a match of fluctuating fortunes and some controversy, Scorpions edged ahead into the opening two races, with skipper Michael Palm Toft scoring a notable victory over King in Heat 1 and Josh Bailey triumphing in Heat 2, only for a hat-trick of 4-2 heat wins for Witches to edge the visitors into a four-point lead.
The momentum swung in Scorpions’ favour after successive 5-1s from Josh Auty and Michael Palm Toft in Heat 6, and then Tero Aarnio and Auty in Heat 7, with the latter race containing some sublime team-riding by Auty.
Scorpions extended their lead to 30-24 after a 4-2 in Heat 9, although the Scunthorpe faithful were up in the arms when the race was allowed to continue despite Ryan Douglas receiving a big shove from fellow Australian Rory Schlein. Douglas somehow remained onboard his bike, but was relegated from second to fourth, and only collected a point after a last-lap fall for Nathan Greaves.
King – who had scored a 15-point-maximum at the Eddie Wright Raceway on his previous visit – was again in simply superb form. He had zipped past Douglas to win Heat 5, but he saved his best for Heat 11. Attacking the outside of the track, he flew around Auty and Aarnio on the opening lap with a tremendous burst of speed, in a perfect blend of aggression and bravery.
A surprise 5-1 to Cameron Heeps and Connor Mountain in Heat 12 reduced Scunthorpe’s lead to two points, and then Witches took the lead with a further 5-1 in Heat 13, after King settled behind Schlein and kept the Scorpions’ pair at bay.
Scunthorpe needed a big result from Heat 14, and with tension mounting, all four were allowed back by referee Stuart Wilson after Aarnio fell in a tight second bend.
The re-run saw two battles. Heeps chased Douglas up front, while Aarnio attempted to find a way past Greaves. Aarnio seemed to have the speed to make an outside move on Greaves on the third lap, but the two riders clattered into each other down the back straight, before Aarnio bit the dust entering the third turn. The referee adjudged Aarnio to be the cause of the stoppage, while Heeps passed Douglas just before the race was stopped and was awarded the race win.
Scorpions needed a 5-1 from Heat 15 to draw, and although Auty and Palm Toft overcame the challenge of Heeps, there was no catching the brilliant King.
Scorpions’ team manager Dave Peet said: “It hurts when, after such a good away win at Workington last week, we don’t follow it up at home against Ipswich. But consistency has been our problem all season long.
“The scores were fluctuating, and we went behind at the wrong time. The refereeing decisions evened themselves out over the match – I don’t really want to blame that.
“It was one of those meetings that could have gone either way. You can’t take it away from Ipswich – they are a very strong team and fully deserved the victory, while Danny King was outstanding for them.
“We took seven points from Jake Allen’s rides, so rider replacement didn’t hit us too hard. But we just had too many breakdowns and too many falls, and lost points in races where we really should have capitalised.
“We were out-gated at the vital time, and we weren’t consistent. Every single one of our riders won a race today, but we didn’t have any heat winners after Heat 9 and that also tells its own story.”
Witches move to second place in the SGB Championship league table thanks to their victory, while Scorpions will make looking to make amends next weekend, when they travel to basement side Berwick on Saturday, before hosting Peterborough Panthers at the Eddie Wright Raceway next Sunday (August 20th, 5.30pm).
HENDERSON INSURANCE SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS 43
1. Michael Palm Toft 3 2* 2 1 1* (9+2)
2. Jake Allen R/R
3. Lewis Kerr R FX 3 1 (4)
4. Ryan Douglas 2 2 3 1 2 (10)
5. Josh Auty 2 3 2* 1* 0 2 (10+2)
6. Tero Aarnio 0 1 3 R 2 0 FX (6)
7. Josh Bailey 3 0 1* (4+1)
IPSWICH WITCHES 47
1. Danny King 2 3 3 2* 3 (13+1)
2. Kyle Newman 1* 1 1 2 0 (5+1)
3. Cameron Heeps 3 1 3 3 3 0 (13)
4. Justin Sedgmen R/R
5. Rory Schlein 3 1 2 3 (9)
6. Nathan Greaves 2 0 FX FX 1 (3)
7. Connor Mountain 0 1 0 1* 2* (4+2)
1: Palm Toft, King, Newman, Aarnio, 56.12 (3-3) (3-3).
2: Bailey, Greaves, Aarnio, Mountain, 57.25 (4-2) (7-5).
3: Heeps, Douglas, Newman, Kerr (ret), 57.87 (2-4) (9-9).
4: (Re-run) Schlein, Auty, Mountain, Bailey, 57.19 (2-4) (11-13).
5: (Re-run) King, Douglas, Newman, Kerr (fell, excluded), 56.19 (2-4) (13-17).
6: Auty, Palm Toft, Schlein, Mountain, 57.06 (5-1) (18-18).
7: Aarnio, Auty, Heeps, Greaves (fell, remounted), 58.38 (5-1) (23-19).
8: Douglas, Newman, Mountain, Aarnio (ret), 57.26 (3-3) (26-22).
9: Kerr, Schlein, Douglas, Greaves (fell, excluded), awarded – no time (4-2) (30-24).
10: Heeps, Palm Toft, Bailey, Greaves (fell, excluded), awarded – no time (3-3) (33-27).
11: King, Aarnio, Auty, Newman, 56.75 (3-3) (36-30).
12: Heeps, Mountain, Kerr, Aarnio, 59.25 (1-5) (37-35).
13: Schlein, King, Palm Toft, Auty, 58.31 (1-5) (38-40).
14: (Re-run) Heeps, Douglas, Greaves, Aarnio (fell, excluded), awarded – no time (2-4) (40-44).
15: King, Auty, Palm Toft, Heeps, 57.94 (3-3) (43-47).