PHIL Morris made a successful cameo as Pirates team manager as he led the south coast side to a losing point at Swindon tonight.
In the absence of Neil Middleditch, who was fulfilling personal commitments, the Great Britain youth boss took temporary charge for the Elite League clash.
And Morris could afford to be pleased with his night’s work as Pirates were defeated 46-43, allow-ing them to draw level on points with second-placed Lakeside.
Visiting number one Darcy Ward emerged with the majority of the plaudits courtesy of four wins, but flying reserve Kyle Newman also deserved credit for pitching in with seven priceless points.
After a shared first outing, Swindon’s Steve Worrall packed up when leading the reserves’ race, with Nathan Greaves’s earlier retirement allowing Newman and Brendan Johnson to bag a 5-0.
More good fortune followed in heat three as the third-placed Nick Morris fell with Swindon on a 4-2 and matters continued in a similar vein next time out, when Greaves came a cropper on the second lap.
However, Pirates were not immune from problems themselves and consecutive retirements for Shamek Pawlicki and Ward saw Swindon seldom challenged as they reduced Poole’s lead to a single point.
A further 5-1 from Dakota North and Worrall put the hosts in front for the first time and Simon Gustafsson continued his fine form in heat eight, backed up by excellent work from Nick Morris.
Swindon’s fifth non-finish of the night courtesy of Greaves allowed Poole’s reserves to keep it tight, before Pawlicki and Maciej Janowski notched Pirates’ first 5-1 of the meeting, despite the best efforts of Robins number one Peter Kildemand.
Ward came out firing after the track grading and his victory ahead of fellow Grand Prix star Troy Batchelor helped Pirates remain just a point behind, but North and Worrall teamed up for a maximum in heat 12 in which they were untroubled by Newman and Josh Grajczonek.
In a re-run heat 13, Ward used every ounce of his considerable talent to rip round the outside of Batchelor on the final bend and convert a 3-3 into a 4-2 heat advantage.
No one could get near Gustafsson in the penultimate heat as he stormed to his third victory in a row, but Poole grab-bed an away point when Ward once again roared past Batchelor to take the chequered flag.
Robins 46: 1 Peter Kildemand (2-2*-1-0) 5+1, 2 Dakota North (1*-3-0-3) 7+1, 3 Nick Morris (fx-1-1-1*) 3+1, 4 Simon Gustafsson (2-3-3-3-0) 11, 5 Troy Batchelor (3-3-2-2-2) 12, 6 Nathan Greaves (r-f-r) 0, 7 Steve Worrall (r-2*-3-2*-1) 8+2. Team manager: Alun Rossiter.
Pirates 43: 1 Darcy Ward (3-r-3-3-3) 12, 2 Josh Grajczonek (0-3-2-0) 5, 3 Shamek Pawlicki (1*-0-0-3) 4+1, 4 Vaclav Milik (1-1-0-2) 4, 5 Maciej Janowski (2-2-2*-1-1) 8+1, 6 Kyle Newman (3-1-2-1-0) 7, 7 Brendan Johnson (2*-0-1*) 3+2. Team manager: Phil Morris. (temporary)
Ht 1: Ward, Kildemand, North, Grajczonek, 65.05 (3-3)
Ht 2: Newman, Johnson, Worrall (retired), Greaves (fell/retired), 69.11 (3-8)
Ht 3 (awarded): Batchelor, Janow-ski, Pawlicki, Morris (fell/exc), (6-11)
Ht 4: Grajczonek, Gustafsson, New-man, Greaves (fell), 66.23 (8-15)
Ht 5: Batchelor, Kildemand, Milik, Pawlicki, 66.58 (13-16)
Ht 6: Gustafsson, Janowski, Morris, Ward (retired), 65.83 (17-18)
Ht 7: North, Worrall, Milik, Johnson, 67.61 (22-19)
Ht 8: Gustafsson, Grajczonek, Morris, Pawlicki, 66.37 (26-21)
Ht 9 (re-run): Worrall, Newman, Johnson, Greaves (retired), 67.43 (29-24)
Ht 10: Pawlicki, Janowski, Kildemand, North, 67.02 (30-29)
Ht 11: Ward, Batchelor, Morris, Milik, 67.05 (33-32)
Ht 12: North, Worrall, Newman, Grajczonek, 67.67 (38-33)
Ht 13 (re-run): Ward, Batchelor, Janowski, Kildemand, 67.14 (40-37)
Ht 14: Gustafsson, Milik, Worrall, Newman, 68.22 (44-39)
Ht 15: Ward, Batchelor, Janowski, Gustafsson, 67.05 (46-43)