PREVIEW: SOMERSET V POOLE - 2ND MAY
Matt Ford believes tomorrow night's Knockout Cup clash at Somerset could be the fixture to get the Volvo Cars Poole Pirates' season moving in the right direction.
Ford's septet features Oaktree Arena track specialists Brady Kurtz and Josh Grajczonek and the Australian duo could be key components when the two sides attempt to get their Knockout Cup contest under way at the second time of asking.
Originally scheduled for Good Friday but washed out because of the horrendous holiday weather, the quarter-final tie has now switched around with the Rebels hosting the first leg and Poole bringing them back to Dorset at the end of June.
Both Kurtz and Grajczonek have provided good service to the Rebels in the past but the Pirate duo will find themselves up against world champion Jason Doyle and a Somerset side who have been starved of home track time this season so far.
A solitary home league win over Leicester a week ago accounts for the Oaktree racing in 2018 and like Poole, the Rebels claimed an away league point at Belle Vue on Monday, a meeting watched by Grajczonek, going down by the same 47-43 scoreline as the Pirates a fortnight earlier.
Starring on Monday was Jack Holder, who the Pirates released during the winter, enabling the Aussie to eventually realise his ambition of racing for the Rebels, and the career-crossing between so many of the riders on show will surely add an extra edge to the meeting.
"Local rivalry will be at its highest," said promoter Ford. "That will provide an extra dimension in the battle for bragging rights, but we have a side capable of winning there if we can hit the form that I believe this team has.
"However, it won't be easy and they will be raising their game simply because they are racing against us."
The Pirates have an unchanged seven for the Highbridge trip but new averages come into effect for Kurtz, Grajczonek and James Shanes.
Somerset: 1. Jason Doyle (capt), 2. Jake Allen, 3. Charles Wright, 4. Jack Holder, 5. Richard Lawson , 6. Jonas Jeppesen, 7. Bradley Wilson-Dean - Team manager: Garry May
Poole: 1. Brady Kurtz, 2. Kacper Woryna, 3. Josh Grajczonek (capt), 4. Linus Sundstrom, 5. Peter Kildemand, 6. Mateusz Szczepaniak, 7. James Shanes - Team manager Neil Middleditch
up to and including 23rd May