Monday September 16, 2013
Although this match was held over from the previous Friday when the adverse weather caused it to be called off earlier in the day, it was certainly worth the few day’s wait as Somerset and Ipswich battled it out for the honour of finishing the league season in 1st place of the Premier League table.

The maths were quite simple in that a win of any sort would see Somerset claim top spot in the Premier League, whereas a draw or better for the Witches would see them leap-frog the Rebels to take 1st place for themselves.

Both sides were missing their respective number 1’s, Somerset’s Jason Doyle and Ipswich’s Ben Barker both being required to ride for Birmingham, their Elite League Cup, and Nick Morris absent from the Somerset side as he was also on Elite League duties albeit with Swindon.

At the start of the season Somerset handed out a 20-point thrashing to the Witches in the League Cup, but any thoughts of that being repeated here were very quickly dispelled when Ipswich stormed into a 6 point lead after the opening 2 heats to put the Rebels on the back foot right from the off.

In fact it wasn’t until heat 4 that a Somerset rider took a race win, but with heats 3 and 4 showing a share of the spoils, it maintained Ipswich’s 6 point advantage.

A maximum race win courtesy of Somerset guest Anders Mellgren and the ‘birthday boy’ Alex Davies, the stand-in Rebels skipper celebrating his 21st birthday the following day, brought the home side back into contention, and when Davies combined with Kyle Newman for a 4-2 in the following heat, it saw Somerset back on level terms.

Any thoughts that the home fans might have held that Somerset were exert their authority and kick on from hereon in were quickly dispelled, however, when the Witches immediately hit back and by the end of heat 8 they had restored their 6-point lead with which to enter the second-half of the match.

Once again it was the Davies/Mellgren combination that brought Somerset back into the match, heat 9 seeing them secure their second maximum race win of the night and a 4-2 in favour of Grajczonek and Newman a race later meant that parity had been restored once again.

But as previously, it was the cue for the Witches to regain the lead, successive 4-2 heat wins, Cameron Heeps riding an excellent 4 laps in heat 11 to thwart everything Grajczonek tried in order to pass his compatriot, putting the visitors 4 points to the good with just 3 heats remaining.

Grajczonek gained revenge for his defeat at the hands of Heeps two races previously by heading home the youngster in heat 13, and with Newman crucially getter the better of ex-Rebel Ritchie Hawkins for 3rd place it closed Ipswich’s lead down to 2 points.

Having not lead throughout the previous 13 races, heat 14 was to see the Rebels hit the front for the first time in the match, Alex Davies and Charles Wright team-riding to perfection to shut out the attentions of Ipswich’s Leigh Lanham, the Witches skipper trying every line possible to split the Somerset duo, but it mattered not which line he chose, Davies and Wright had his measure, the resultant 5-1 saw Somerset take a 2 point lead, 43-41, with the final heat to come.

After being called back after an outrageous jump from the tapes by Tungate, the re-run saw the Ipswich pair block off Davies’ favoured inside move around the first turn, but it left a gap big enough to drive a bus through on the outside which Grajczonek took full advantage of to hit the front as the riders took to the back straight.

With the Ipswich pair trailing in his wake and to the rapturous cheers of the home fans, Grajczonek duly took the chequered flag to not only give the Rebels the narrowest of victories in what was a thrilling match, in which Ipswich more than played their part, to confirm their 1st place finish in the Premier League with which to head into the Championship-deciding play-offs.

Rider replacement – Jason Doyle
K Newman 1 1 1 1 1 - - 5
A Mellgren [g] 0 1* 3 2* 2 - - 8+2
A Davies 2 2* 3 3 2* 0 – 12+2
J Grajczonek R 2 3 2 3 3 - 13
C Wright 2 3 0 0 3 - - 8
D Ritchings [g] 0 0 0 - - - - 0
Team Manager: Garry May

Rider replacement – Ben Barker
C Heeps 3 R 2* 3 2 2 - 12+1
R Tungate 2* 0 1 0 3 1* - 7+2
L Lanham 3 1 3 2 1 - - 10
M Risager 2 0 1 - - - - 3
A Ellis 3 2 0 1 - - - 6
R Hawkins 1 1* 3 1 0 0 - 6+1
Team Manager: Pete Simmons

Referee: Mike Posselwhite

1: Heeps, Tungate, Newman, Mellgren, 59.19 (1-5)
2: Ellis, Wright, Hawkins, Ritchings, 59.13 (3-9)
3: Lanham, Davies, Mellgren, Tungate, 59.59 (6-12)
4: Wright, Risager, Hawkins, Grajczonek (ret), 58.41 (9-15)
5: Mellgren, Davies, Lanham, Heeps (ret), 58.12 (14-16)
6: Davies, Ellis, Newman, Risager, 57.97 (18-18)
7: Lanham, Grajczonek, Tungate, Ritchings, 58.28 (20-22)
8: Hawkins, Heeps, Newman, Wright, 58.44 (21-27)
9: Davies, Mellgren, Risager, Ellis, 58.53 (26-28)
10: Grajczonek, Lanham, Newman, Tungate, 57.98 (30-30)
11: (re-run) Heeps, Grajczonek, Hawkins, Wright, 58.22 (32-34)
12: Tungate, Mellgren, Ellis, Ritchings, 59.16 (34-38)
13: Grajczonek, Heeps, Newman, Hawkins, 58.56 (38-40)
14: Wright, Davies, Lanham, Hawkins, 59.59 (43-41)
15: (re-run) Grajczonek, Heeps, Tungate, Davies, 58.35 (46-44)

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