ROCKETS RAIN ON WITCHES' PARADE
Sunday April 20, 2014
The Silver Ski Rockets dodged both the weather and their arch-rivals from Ipswich, as a late surge took them from a squeaky 28-26 advantage to a decisive 51-39 cushion in Easter Sunday’s League Cup action at Rye House. The win was the Rockets’ first since March 29th, and an important morale booster ahead of this Saturday’s Premier League opener at home to Scunthorpe.

Conversely, the result was a devastating blow to Ipswich’s hopes of further progress in the competition. The Witches still trail group leaders Peterborough by a match point, with just a single – difficult - outing at Somerset to come. The Panthers, meanwhile, have two remaining group fixtures: at Rye on May 4th and away to Plymouth.

Despite an occasional drizzle that built to heavier rain for the final race, the meeting exhibited plenty of tinderbox qualities, thanks to a close early score and the tight, competitive racing normally associated with local derbies. No less than six drawn results from the first nine heats left the outcome delicately poised at 28-26, with a touchpaper moment seeming imminent after Jason Garrity had charged past Adam Ellis and caused the Witch to fall, leading to his own exclusion and what could have been a heated situation on his return to the pits. It was the first head-to-head between the two since last week’s controversial title decider at the British U-21 Final, but emotions were soon calmed and the pair later buried any potential hatchet with a handshake in the pits.

Then the surge began. There was less racing drama in Heat 10, but just as impactful an outcome as Edward Kennett and Mathieu Tresarrieu left Morten Risager and Cameron Heeps trailing for the first 5-1 of the match, to provide the Rockets with a 33-27 safety net.

Luke Bowen quickly followed up with a wonderful outside-to-inside manoeuvre off the first bend to head home Richie Worrall and Gino Manzares, then re-appeared to partner Jason Bunyan for the 5-1 that took the Rockets 10 points clear at 41-31.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. In a tactical masterpiece, Kennett took the field wide on the first bend of Heat 13 to allow partner Steve Boxall to cut back on the inside and join him for the maximum that clinched victory.

A win from Garrity in Heat 14 made sure of the third match point, before the drizzle turned into much heavier rain ahead of the finale. Kennett allowed his heart to rule his head in that one, over-doing it in the increasingly slippery conditions in his pursuit of race leader Worrall and disappearing into the safety fence on the last bend to hand Worrall and Morten Risager a 5-1 over remaining Rocket Tresarrieu.

It was Kennett’s second tumble of the match, although he was unbeaten in every race in which he stayed on his bike. Testimonial star Bowen also flew, with three wins in his 14 point haul, while captain Bunyan’s solid paid 8 indicates that he is re-building momentum after his broken rib.

It also proved a strong - if expensive - afternoon for Mathieu Tresarrieu, who weighed in with 10+1 against his former club but was also left to count the cost of a blown engine from his victory in Heat 1. The Frenchman said afterwards, “It went as I crossed the finish line. It was a good engine for the smaller tracks like Rye House, and I had to use my second bike – which is set up for the Grass Tracks – after that. I still got some good points, but it has been an expensive day.”

Regarding the Rockets’ late push toward victory, “We spoke as a team about the first corner. The first corner is very important here as a small track, and the talk worked.

“The track was OK; it just became a problem at the end (in Heat 15). It changed so quickly in the rain then, and I did not want to take any risks by going full gas, because you have to think about the rest of your year.”

Rye House promoter Len Silver was clearly delighted with the result as his charges got back to winning ways. “Up to the Easter weekend, the Witches were undefeated and you don’t get to that position unless you are a very good side.

“So to beat them so convincingly – you should ignore the relative lottery of Heat 15 when you look at the score – was tremendous. What was particularly pleasing to me was to see Jason Bunyan back amongst the points. He is still carrying his rib injury, but he was much more comfortable today.

“And we are still not firing on all cylinders yet, so we haven’t shown what we are fully capable of.”

Rye House scorers:

Luke Bowen 14 (6 rides), Mathieu Tresarrieu 10+1 (5), Edward Kennett 9 (5), Jason Bunyan 6+2 (4), Steve Boxall 6+2 (4), Jason Garrity 5 (4), Simon Lambert 1 (3)

Ipswich scorers:

Richie Worrall 10 (5 rides), Morten Risager 8+2 (5), Adam Ellis 6+1 (4), Ritchie Hawkins 6+1 (5), Gino Manzares 4+2 (4), Cameron Heeps 4 (4), Rohan Tungate 1 (4)

Match Points: Rye House 3 Ipswich 0

The scheduled Midland Development League fixture between the Raiders and the Stoke Spitfires, which was due to follow the League Cup match, was called off ahead of the meeting due to the weather concerns – the right call, given the rain that settled in after Heat 15.