SWINDON 51 PIRATES 38
The 2017 season drew to a close for the Volvo Cars Poole Pirates despite making life as difficult for title favourites Swindon in the second leg of their Play-Off semi-final tie.
Wasting no time in wiping out the deficit from the home leg the Pirates made it a fourteen heat shoot-out after Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder had claimed an opening 4-2 - a scoreline that was to prove popular during the first phase of this meeting, a further four being recorded in the following four heats. Three of those went in Swindon's favour as they twice built a two point lead on the night.
In that opener Poole were on an early 5-1 but the efforts of Adam Ellis to split the Aussies was immense but the former Poole rider was to suffer nothing other than misery for the remainder of the meeting. His fall in heat 6 earned him a disqualification and with Jason Doyle winning the re-run the sequence of 4-2's was broken.
Some excellent team riding by Swindon;s Nick Morris to nurse Bradley Wilson-Dean to a 5-1 gave the Robins some breathing space but Wilson-Dean was the sole Swindon contributor in heat 8 after Ellis fell at the third turn on lap 3, damaging his wrist and having to pull-out of the remainder of the contest.
An excellent ride by James Shanes to pass David Bellego in heat 9, supporting skipper Hans Andersen's victory kept the Pirates' dream alive but they still trailed on aggregate, a six point gap needing to be closed with six programmed heats remaining.
Edward Kennett and Timo Lahti were able to keep Wilson-Dean at bay in heat 10 but the world-champion-in-waiting, Jason Doyle, stormed to his second win of the evening. The Pirates then were given a massive boost when first Nick Morris fell, whilst on a 5-1 with guest reserve Liam Carr and then in the re-run leader Carr went to ground on the first lap allowing Kurtz and Holder to cruise to a 5-0, a result the inched Poole ahead on the night and left just one point between the two sides after 26 of the tie's 30 heats.
It proved to be a false dawn though for the Pirates, seeking a 10th grand final appearance, as the Robins fought back splendidly with a three-in-a-row 5-1 response to progress to next week's final with a heat to spare, concluding the tie with a 4-2 for a somewhat flattering 51-38 victory on the night.
Swindon 51 (97)
J. Doyle 0,3,3,2'=8+1
A. Ellis 2,FD,F=2
T. Musielak 3,1,2,2',1=9+1
D. Bellego 1,3,0,3=7
N. Morris 2,3,FD,3,3=11
B. Wilson-Dean 3,2',3,0,3,2'=13+2
L. Carr 1,0,F=1
POOLE 38 (82)
B. Kurtz 3,2,3,0,0=8
J. Holder 1,0,2,2'=5+1
E. Kennett 0,1,2,0=3
T. Lahti 2,0,1',0=3+1
H. Andersen 3,2,3,1,2=11
P. Starke 2,1',1',1=5+2
J. Shanes 0,1,1,1=3
Ht 1 B. Kurtz A. Ellis J. Holder J. Doyle 2-4 (2-4) (66.02)
Ht 2 B. Wilson-Dean P. Starke L. Carr J. Shanes 4-2 (6-6) (66.46)
Ht 3 T. Musielak T. Lahti D. Bellego E. Kennett 4-2 (10-8) (65.49)
Ht 4 H. Andersen N. Morris J. Shanes L. Carr 2-4 (12-12) (66.95)
Ht 5 D. Bellego B. Kurtz T. Musielak J. Holder 4-2 (16-14) (65.55)
Ht 6 J. Doyle H. Andersen P. Starke A. Ellis (Fell d/q) 3-3 (19-17) (66.36)
Ht 7 N. Morris B. Wilson-Dean E. Kennett T. Lahti 5-1 (24-18) (67.46)
Ht 8 B. Wilson-Dean J. Holder P. Starke A. Ellis (Fell) 3-3 (27-21) (67.34)
Ht 9 H. Andersen T. Musielak J. Shanes D. Bellego 2-4 (29-25) (66.68)
Ht 10 J. Doyle E. Kennett T. Lahti B. Wilson-Dean 3-3 (32-28) (60.87)
Ht 11 B. Kurtz J. Holder L. Carr (Fell) N. Morris (Fell d/q) 0-5 (32-33) (72.41)
Ht 12 B. Wilson-Dean T. Musielak P. Starke E. Kennett 5-1 (37-34) (67.02)
Ht 13 N. Morris J. Doyle H. Andersen B. Kurtz 5-1 (42-35) (66.18)
Ht 14 D. Bellego B. Wilson-Dean J. Shanes T. Lahti 5-1 (47-36) (67.21)
Ht 15 N. Morris H. Andersen T. Musielak B. Kurtz 4-2 (51-38) (66.46)
Referee Graham Flint
Gates: Swindon won toss and chose gates 1&3 in heat 1. POOLE took gates 1&3 in heat 15
Rider of the Night: James Shanes
Final Standings (champions to be determined via play-offs)