TROY Batchelor’s last heat lunge on former British Champion Danny King booked Swindon Robins’ spot in the SGB Premiership play-offs this evening, despite losing 48-42 to Ipswich Witches at Foxhall Stadium.

Entering heat 15, Alun Rossiter’s side required only a shared race to become the first team to officially book their place in the end-of-season play-offs – and for two-and-a-half laps things looked bleak.

Witches’ new recruit Niels-Kristian Iversen led Robins skipper Jason Doyle, while King held off the hard-charging Batchelor.

But the Australian took matters into his own hands on turn three, diving underneath King to earn Swindon the shared race they required as a losing bonus point was secured.

While Batchelor will receive the plaudits, credit must go to Robins reserve Ellis Perks – who dropped only three points from four rides, returning with 7+2.

Across the board it was a mixed night for the visitors – only Batchelor could register a double figure haul.

Adam Ellis (3+1) will perhaps be most frustrated after raced for the Witches before, while Rasmus Jensen’s last race win rescued what would’ve been a woeful evening for the Dane.

Tobiasz Musielak also struggled, ending the evening with six points, while Claus Vissing returned with only a point to his name.

Skipper Jason Doyle also endured a mixed bag, but still returned with nine points.

In truth, the meeting’s early excitement was bottled up and released entirely in heat five.

Early races were dictated from the tapes. And Danish GP star Niels-Kristian Iversen was quickest to trap in the opening race in company with teammate Cameron Heeps as the Witches recorded an opening race 5-1.

Iversen’s time broke the Foxhall Stadium track record, which now stands at 55.40. Ellis Perks, Chris Harris and Jake Allen were other riders to gate and go – as the Witches led by four points after as many races.

Home favourite Harris – who has struggled for form this season – then delivered a jaw-dropping ride in heat five to beat Doyle and Ellis.

After trapping on a 5-1, Rossiter’s Robins surrendered their maximum when bulldog Brit Harris rounded Ellis before cutting underneath Doyle within a lap.

Troy Batchelor proved his paid maximum at Foxhall last month was no fluke when taking the flag in heat six – Perks’ heat two efforts couldn’t be repeated as he ran a last.

Ritchie Hawkins’ side looked to hold the upper hand after eight heats, but the hosts’ pair of 4-2s were cancelled out in heat nine when Batchelor and Perks teamed up for a Swindon 5-1 – cutting Robins’ deficit to four points.

A maximum for the hosts could’ve been predicted in heat 10, and it duly happened when Witches’ top pairing in Iversen and Heeps defeated Musielak and Jensen.

But no one would’ve called the hosts’ maximum in heat 11. Doyle and Ellis were blocked out by home reserve Allen and former British champion King as the Witches led 39-27 with four heats remaining.

Knowing their 12-point interval deficit had to be halved, the Robins wasted little time to start their fightback.

Jensen and Perks teamed up for what arguably the Robins’ biggest 5-1 of the evening in heat 12 over Allen and Harris.

A shared race followed by a heat 14 2-4 in favour of Swindon took the meeting to a last heat decider.

And it was then that Batchelor delivered the all-important pass on King, which ensured Swindon’s SGB Premiership title quest remains firmly on.

Ipswich Witches = 48

1. Niels-Kristian Iversen - 3, 1', 3, 1', 3 = 11+2

2. Cameron Heeps - 2', 2, 3, 2' = 9+2

3. Chris Harris - 3, 3, 1, 0 = 7

4. Richard Lawson - 0, 0, 0 = 0

5. Danny King - 1, 3, 3, 2, 0 = 9

6. James Sarjeant - 0, 1, 2 = 3

7. Jake Allen - 2, 3, 1, 2', 1, 0 = 9+1

Swindon Robins = 42

1. Jason Doyle - 1, 2, 1, 3, 2 = 9

2. Adam Ellis - 0, 1', 2, 0 = 3+1

3. Rasmus Jensen - 1', 0, 0, 3 = 4+1

4. Tobiasz Musielak - 2, 2, 1, 1 = 6

5. Troy Batchelor - 2, 3, 3, R, 3, 1' = 12+1

6. Ellis Perks - 3, 0, 2', 2' = 7+2

7. Claus Vissing - 1, 0, 0 = 1