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Meeting Preview - COMETS v IPSWICH
Photo by Dave Payne
Fri 26 Apr 2013 by Comets Press Office
WORKINGTON COMETS v IPSWICH WITCHES
(Knockout Cup, 1st round, 2nd leg)
Saturday 27th April at 7:00pm, Derwent Park, Workington

This Saturday evening sees the Ipswich Witches make the near 340 mile journey north to Derwent Park for the first time this season for the second leg of this opening round tie, with the aggregate winners going on to face Somerset in the next round; the Rebels having drawn a bye into round two.

The Comets have it all to do in this meeting having been hit by Witches heat maximums in the final two heats at Foxhall Heath on Thursday evening. Prior to those closing heats the Comets only trailed their hosts by 12 points. However, a 20-point deficit means the Comets will have to hit the Witches hard from the opening race and aim to emulate the sort of scoring they achieved last week against Sheffield.

“With no tactical rides in the Premier League Knockout Cup contest it is simply a race to be the first to reach 91 points,” said Comets team manager Tony Jackson

But, the Comets task has been made more difficult following injuries to senior reserve Chris Mills and now to skipper Richard Lawson, who is still troubled by back and chest injuries following his spill at Birmingham on Wednesday when riding for Elite League club Lakeside.

Coming in to replace Richard is former Comet, locally-based Premier League Riders' Champion, Craig Cook. Meanwhile, Redcar's in-form reserve Micky Dyer is replacing Chris Mills, who is currently sidelined with a broken left wrist.

“We would like to publicly state our appreciation of both the Edinburgh and Redcar promotions for allowing us to utilise their riders as guests. Unfortunately the nature of speedway means that such situations are a necessary evil, but both riders have great records around our track so hopefully they can help us turn this cup-tie around,” said Jackson.

Ipswich have injury concerns of their own with their number one, Ben Barker, having withdrawn from Thursday night's British Championship semi-final at Sheffield after aggravating a scaphoid injury. However, Ipswich confirmed today (Friday) that Barker WOULD be lining up at Derwent Park on Saturday.

Team GB international Ben Barker (9.83) tops the Witches averages, having joined the club over the close-season from Plymouth where he rode last season. In fact Barker only completed one lap of Derwent Park last year before having to withdraw due to injury following a spill in the opening heat, so Cumbrian speedway fans will be keen to see him in action this time around.

Providing support for Barker is their captain Leigh Lanham (6.92) who has a reasonably good record around Workington's home circuit, having scored well on previous visits with the now defunct Newport Wasps in recent seasons. Meanwhile Dane Morten Risager (6.68) has improved with each visit to Derwent Park and no doubt the former Elite League rider will be keen to continue that trend on Saturday evening.

The fast-starting young Australian Rohan Tungate (6.55) top-scored for the Witches at Foxhall in the first leg, his only defeat coming in his second outing at the hands of the even faster-starting Craig Cook. Tungate has taken up a doubling-up position with Poole Pirates this season (along with Kyle Howarth) and he certainly looks a fine prospect in what is only his second season in Britain, both of which have been with Ipswich.

A late change to the Witches line-up saw former Comet Ritchie Hawkins (5.09) come into the side in place of Finnish rider Jari Makinen and he has shown on several occasions that he still knows his way around Derwent Park. Hawkins made his Witches debut in Thursday's first leg, scoring four and two bonus.

At reserve are two highly-rated youngsters – Australian Cameron Heeps (4.40) and 17-year-old British rider Adam Ellis (3.00). Both are terrific prospects for the future, with France-based Ellis having his first taste of regular Premier League racing this year while also doubling-up in the National League with the Isle of Wight Islanders.

Following on from the 15-heat Knockout Cup fixture there will be a seven-race junior meeting, featuring eight riders currently competing in the Northern Junior League. This is an individual meeting of six heats and a final, which forms ‘Round 1' of the ‘Northern Open Championship'. Riders that currently wear the Workington Meteors race-jacket will be amongst those competing.

So, with a total of 22 races taking place, there is plenty of entertainment on offer at Derwent Park this Saturday evening, with the action getting underway at 7:00pm as the Comets aim to pull back the first leg deficit against the Witches of Ipswich.

WORKINGTON ‘THOMAS ARMSTRONG' COMETS
1 Craig Cook, 2 Tero Aarnio, 3 Rusty Harrison, 4 Kyle Howarth, 5 Rene Bach, 6 Ashley Morris, 7 Micky Dyer.

IPSWICH ‘SACKERS' WITCHES
1 Ben Barker, 2 Ritchie Hawkins, 3 Rohan Tungate, 4 Morten Risager, 5 Leigh Lanham (Capt.), 6 Adam Ellis, 7 Cameron Heeps.
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Last Updated :  Fri 26 Apr 2013, 19:24 UK
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Photography
Dave Payne, Adrian Randall