The Evening Star Ipswich Witches were soundly beaten this evening by Poole Pirates 59-33 at Wimborne Road in the Elite League Play-Off Semi-Final in a meeting televised live on Sky Sports.
Ipswich were without their Polish rider, Jarek Hampel who was serving a twenty-eight day suspension imposed by the Speedway Control Board for withholding his services when riding for his Polish side last Thursday instead of riding for Ipswich. Into his place as a guest came Peterborough’s Danish heat leader Kenneth Bjerre. Tobi Kroner’s broken finger had still not healed sufficiently for him to ride and the Witches operated rider replacement at number 2. Poole were at full strength.
Ipswich made the worst possible start to the meeting conceding maximums in each of the opening two races to trail 10-2. Kenneth Bjerre managed to win heat 3 for a shared heat and the next race was also drawn with Davey Watt winning for the Pirates but being followed home by Rory Schlein and Chris Schraam.
Poole wracked up their third 5-1 of the evening through Bjarne Pedersen and Adam Skornicki in heat 5 but the next race was drawn with Chris Holder winning but the Witches pairing of Steve Johnston and Rory Schlein filled the minor placings. Kenneth Bjerre was then handed the black and white helmet colour for a tactical ride in heat 7 but with Davey Watt taking the chequered flag from the Dane the heat was shared 4-4. There was another draw in heat 8 with Rory Schlein gaining his first win of the evening which meant that the Pirates now led 31-19.
Bjarne Pedersen took the chequered flag in the next race from Rory Schlein with Adam Skornicki third and in heat 10 Chris Holder and Magnus Zetterstrom scored their second 5-1 of the evening together to put the Pirates 18 points in front. Piotr Swiderski gained his first win of the evening in heat 11 for a shared heat and there was another 3-3 in the next race when Kenneth Bjerre and Steve Johnston followed Bjarne Pedersen home. With three heats remaining the Pirates led 46-28.
Chris Holder dropped his first points of the evening when finishing third in heat 13 behind Davey Watt and Rory Schlein and the Pirates gained another 4-2 in the penultimate heat when Adam Skornicki won from Steve Johnston and Freddie Erikssen. In the final race Chris Holder and Bjarne Pedersen rounded the evening off with another 5-1 to leave the Pirates victorious 59-33.
For the Witches Kenneth Bjerre scored 11 and Rory Schlein 10+1 whilst Steve Johnston battled hard for his 6+1.
Chris Holder scored 13 for the Pirates, Bjarne Pedersen 13+1 and Davey Watt 11, but all the Pirates contributed points at important times..
This was always going to be a massive task for the Witches and so it proved to be. Ipswich provided only three race winners all evening and were unable to gain a single heat advantage. In the other semi-final Lakeside Hammers defeated the Swindon Robins 56-33 to set up a two legged final between the teams that finished in the top two positions in the Elite League table Poole and Lakeside.
Chris Holder 13, Magnus Zetterstrom 6+2, Bjarne Pedersen 13+1, Adam Skornicki 7+2, Davey Watt 11, Freddie Erikssen 5+2, Daniel Davidsson 4+1.
Piotr Swiderski 5, Tobi Kroner rider replacement, Kenneth Bjerre (guest) 11, Robert Miskowiak 0, Rory Schlein 10+1, Steve Johnston 6+1, Chris Schraam 1+1.