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Poole Pirates: Neil Middleditch and Darcy Ward seek resilience at reserve
Pirates relied heavily on the powerhouse scoring of heavyweight triumvirate Ward, Maciej Janowski and Greg Hancock in the 52-42 loss at Swindon last Monday.
Ward (14+1), Janowski (9) and Hancock (9) provided 32 of Pirates' haul, with Tomas H Jonasson, Rohan Tungate, Josh Grajczonek and Micky Dyer all struggling.
Defending champions Swindon are known for their solidity throughout and Robins star Troy Batchelor this week claimed Poole were “almost a three-man team”.
But Middleditch and Ward are hoping the club's middle order, which will be shorn of the injured Tungate, and reserves can take the chance to disprove that theory in tonight's play-off semi-final second leg at Wimborne Road (7.30pm).
Team manager Middleditch told the Daily Echo: “I don't think we are top heavy. Swindon are solid throughout and all of their boys are capable of scoring points.
“All my boys are capable of scoring points but they have to come to the party and do it tonight. They have to step it up. If they want to be in the final and possibly win the league, they have to step up their game. If they have got something left, I want it tonight.
“Ten points is attainable but tough. What we have to do is try to get into Swindon straight away. We can't afford to leave it until later in the meeting. We have to try to get back their advantage and then hold them from there.”
In an interview with the Swindon Advertiser, Grand Prix star Ward said: “It is certainly doable for us and it is probably going to come down to the last few races. There will be some very big races on the night.
“We know 10 points is a lot because Swindon are good at Poole. The last time they were there, they didn't have Peter Kildemand and it was close, so they might be a bit stronger now.
“It is the play-offs, though, so anything can happen. Riders like Tomas are really good at Poole and we need everyone firing. We are much better at home so we should give ourselves a chance.
“Hopefully, the track will be good and, if it is, I'm sure our boys will be much stronger. It can all be different at Poole but we will have to raise our game.”
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