NEIL Middleditch played a tactical blinder as Pirates won the Elite Shield and maintained their 100 per cent Elite League winning record in 2014.
Pirates triumphed 47-45 at Swindon tonight with that result also enough to earn them the Shield courtesy of a 103-79 aggregate victory in today’s two meetings.
The away success came despite the visitors trailing 26-16 after seven heats, when team boss Middleditch put Josh Grajczonek on a tactical and the Aussie duly led in an 8-1 that swung the meeting in the visitors’ favour.
In heat 15, Shamek Pawlicki passed second-placed Peter Kildemand on the back straight of the final lap, ensuring that Pirates only suffered a 4-2 reverse and therefore pinched three points.
The fixture began in positive fashion for Poole as visiting number one Chris Holder sealed heat one with ease, but the Robins soon hit back.
The hosts were on a 5-1 in the reserves’ contest, only for the second-placed Dan Greenwood to slip up under pressure from Lee Smart on lap three, but Swindon still gained a heat advantage.
Troy Batchelor and Nick Morris then made mincemeat of Pawlicki – recovered from a morning spill at Wimborne Road – and temporary captain Maciej Janowski.
An impressive win from Grajczonek steadied the ship temporarily but the Robins were at it again in heat five, Kildemand and Nick Morris wrapping up another 5-1.
A 4-2 heat advantage followed for the visitors despite Batchelor pipping Janowski on the line, but a third home maximum in five heats put Swindon 26-16 ahead.
Middleditch then unleashed his tactical card and Grajczonek and Pawlicki played it to perfection under pressure from Batchelor.
It got even better as Pirates guest Stefan Nielsen charged to first tailed in by Lee Smart, putting Pirates in front for the first time.
Increasing the advantage to 33-30 after 10 heats, Poole were then pegged back by a Batchelor-Morris 5-1.
More processional racing followed in heat 12 but this time it was a 4-2 in the visitors’ favour, with Grajczonek grabbing his third victory on the spin.
Kildemand prevented a 5-1 when he split Janowski and Holder in heat 13, before a chaotic penultimate outing saw Simon Gustafsson and Lee Smart both excluded following falls.
Vaclav Milik defeated Robins guest Benji Compton on the second re-run and then Pawlicki powered into second behind Batchelor in heat 15 to give Poole a three-point victory.
RIDERS' SCORES AND HEAT DETAILS
Robins 45 (79): 1 Peter Kildemand (2-3-2-2-1) 10, 2 Nicolai Klindt (0-3-r-2) 5, 3 Troy Batchelor (3-2-1-3-3) 12, 4 Simon Gustafsson (2-0-0-fx) 2, 5 Nick Morris (2*-2*-2*-0) 6+3, 6 Dan Greenwood (1-1*-1-0) 3+1, 7 Benji Compton, guest (3-2*-r-2) 7+1. Team manager: Alun Rossiter.
Pirates 47 (103): 1 Chris Holder (3-3-1-1) 8, 2 Josh Grajczonek (1-3-6^-3) 13, 3 Shamek Pawlicki (1-1-2*-3-2) 9+1, 4 Vaclav Milik (r-0-3) 3, 5 Maciej Janowski (0-1-1-3-0) 5, 6 Lee Smart (2-0-2*-fx) 4+1, 7 Stefan Nielsen, guest (0-r-1-3-1) 5. Team manager: Neil Middleditch.
Ht 1: Holder, Kildemand, Grajczonek, Klindt, 66.77 (2-4)
Ht 2: Compton, Smart, Greenwood, Nielsen, 70.05 (6-6)
Ht 3 (re-run): Batchelor, Morris, Pawlicki, Janowski, 66.15 (11-7)
Ht 4: Grajczonek, Gustafsson, Greenwood, Nielsen (retired), 67.09 (14-10)
Ht 5: Kildemand, Morris, Pawlicki, Milik (retired), 66.02 (19-11)
Ht 6: Holder, Batchelor, Janowski, Gustafsson, 67.14 (21-15)
Ht 7: Klindt, Compton, Nielsen, Smart, 67.43 (26-16)
Ht 8: Grajczonek (tac), Pawlicki, Batchelor, Gustafsson, 67.08 (27-24)
Ht 9: Nielsen, Smart, Greenwood, Compton (retired), 68.77 (28-29)
Ht 10: Pawlicki, Kildemand, Janowski, Klindt (retired), 66.93 (30-33)
Ht 11 (re-run): Batchelor, Morris, Holder, Milik, 67.56 (35-34)
Ht 12: Grajczonek, Klindt, Nielsen, Greenwood, 68.47 (37-38)
Ht 13: Janowski, Kildemand, Holder, Morris, 67.59 (39-42)
Ht 14 (re-run x2): Milik, Compton, Smart (fell/dsq), Gustafsson (fell/dsq), 68.21 (41-45)
Ht 15: Batchelor, Pawlicki, Kildemand, Janowski, 68.21 (45-47)