Pirates fightback leaves speedway title in the balance
11:04am Tuesday 16th October 2012 in Sport
Sky Sports Elite League Grand Final (1st leg).
Swindon Robins 51 Poole Pirates 44.
SWINDON’S title hopes are on a knife-edge after a thrilling 51-44 victory over deadly rivals Poole in the Elite League Grand Final first leg at the Abbey Stadium on Monday.
Heat leaders Hans Andersen and Peter Kildemand posted double-figure scores to lead the charge, while Nick Morris, Sebastian Alden and Simon Stead also impressed in a strong all-round display.
Things started badly for Poole as Darcy Ward slipped in Heat 1 to allow Robins captain Andersen and Morris to claim an easy 5-1, while reserves Alden (substituting for the injured Jason Doyle) and Dawid Lampart then dominated the second to put Swindon into an early 10-2 lead.
In Heat 3, Swindon's Stead claimed a great scalp to hold off newly-crowned world champion Chris Holder and secure a 4-2.
It wasn't until the fourth race that a Poole rider crossed the line first with Krzysztof Kasprzak taking the chequered flag.
But Swindon were still very much in the ascendancy and when Troy Batchelor bounced back from a fall during his first ride to lead home a Robins 4-2 in Heat 7, the Robins opened up a ten-point lead.
Just two heats later that advantage had been stretched to 18 as Morris and Alden and then Kildemand and Stead both chipped in with resounding 5-1 wins to leave Poole shell-shocked and trailing 36-18.
But Holder turned the tide as he won Heat 10 on double points, before Ward did the same on a tactical ride in the next – Ricky Kling's third place earning the Pirates a 7-2 which saw the lead trimmed to ten points.
Ward then produced an outstanding ride in Heat 13 to hold off Andersen and team up with Kasprzak for a 4-2 that further reduced the lead and the Australian capped a fine night's work as he also won the final race.
However, Andersen and Kildemand managed to relegate Holder to fourth spot to ensure a share of the spoils in the finale leaving the contest delicately balanced ahead of the second leg.
Robins boss Alun Rossiter said: "Obviously, I think we are a bit disappointed because we gave away some silly points.
"It was a very good start we made but we should have done better to keep that position. But a win's a win and we will take it."
SWINDON: Hans Andersen 11+1, Peter Kildemand 10, Sebastian Alden 8+2, Simon Stead 8+2, Nick Morris 6+2, Troy Batchelor 5, Dawid Lampart 3+1.
POOLE: Darcy Ward 15, Chris Holder 13, Krzysztof Kasprzak 10, Sam Masters 3+1, Ricky Kling 2, Kyle Howarth 1, Piotr Pawlicki R/R.