WELL it was most certainly better – there can be no doubt about that.
But the scoreline doesn’t lie. No matter that this was an entertaining meeting on a track in a much improved state than for the ill-fated visit of Workington or that you couldn’t fault the effort of any one of the seven Ecco Finishing Bears riders, it was another home defeat in an already disappointing season.
The Bears had battled back from an early four-point deficit to lead by six points with three races to go, but their visitors beat them across the finish line.
A 5-1 in the reserves’ race had given the Witches an early foothold in the match but Ben Morley redeemed himself when he surged to the front and rode a textbook race to hold off Rohan Tungate and win heat four.
Skipper Stuart Robson dived inside Stefan Nielsen to grab third place and confirm the Bears’ second successive 4-2 to bring the scores level.
Four consecutive drawn heats kept it that way – the second of them after Jan Graversen was passed by both visiting riders after clonking the fence with his side on a 5-1 and the third of them after Robson pulled off the move of the night, darting between Nielsen and Nico Covatti to hit the front.
A 5-1 from Matej Kus – who ended the night with three race wins – and Adam Roynon in heat nine put the Bears in front for the first time.
And they nearly had another maximum heat advantage next time out. Graversen was again unable to hold off both Ipswich riders but he refused to give up and took the inside line to get past Tungate coming out of the final bend.
With the score at 39-33 the Bears – who had lost heavily at Berwick and Rye House over the Bank Holiday weekend – were on the verge of victory, but their opponents hit back and the scores were dead level at 42-42 going into the final race.
Kus had been the only man to beat Witches No 1 Danny King but he was unable to repeat the feat as the Great Britain international took the chequered flag for the fourth time and teamed up with Covatti for a match-winning 4-2.
Even when they were on that late losing streak the Bears still showed some fight though, with Lasse Bjerre slamming the door shut on Tungate to preserve his second place in heat 13 and Roynon spending all race trying to improve on his third place next time out.
BEARS: Lasse Bjerre 12, Matej Kus 10, Adam Roynon 6+1, Stuart Robson 6, Jan Graversen 5+1, Ben Morley 3, Rafal Konopka 2+1.
WITCHES: Danny King 14, Nico Covatti 10+2, Richie Hawkins 9+1, Stefan Nielsen 6+1, Rohan Tungate 5+1, Gino Manzares 2+2, R/R for Cameron Heeps.