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Pirates: Poole tighten grip on top spot with win over rivals
PIRATES won the battle but it remains to be seen whether they can prevail in the war.
At least if they are to emerge victorious in the play-offs, Poole now have the opportunity to do it on their terms.
A barnstorming finish to a night of high drama proved enough to see off Swindon and claim maximum points with a 49-41 win.
Piotr Pawlicki lit up Wimborne Road with a sensational effort in heat 14 to set up a trademark 5-1 finale from the Turbo Twins as the Robins left Dorset with nothing to show for their efforts.
But perhaps more important than any psychological blow the result may have struck ahead of a potential title showdown was the bearing it could have on the Elite League top spot.
First position is now within Pirates’ grasp and this stunning win last night means they can finish at the summit – and get the all-important pick of semi-final opponents – if they win at Birmingham next Monday.
Poole ensured they would decide their own fate by getting the better of Swindon in a clash which proved every bit as tight as the pundits had predicted.
The defending champions and Alun Rossiter’s Robins have been the leading two teams in 2012 and it soon became evident why as they slugged it out in front of a bumper crowd.
Swindon rely on sharing the load throughout their solid one-to-seven but it was not enough to deny Pirates.
The evening began with current world number one Holder getting a rousing reception befitting his lofty status in the GP standings. He lived up to the big billing by edging out Hans Andersen at the start and then holding off Nick Morris.
Ricky Kling laughed in the face of Pirates’ well-publicised problems at the tail by providing an early sting to beat Simon Stead, with Linus Eklof completing a heat advantage to raise the roof.
Ward made it a Pirates hat-trick, although the win was soured as Pawlicki took a heavy fall after losing control on the back straight. Kasprzak stormed clear to make it four in another shared race.
Pawlicki, unscathed following his earlier spill, was having a night to forget at this stage and found himself on the shale again when Poole looked poised to extend their lead in heat five. However, all was not lost for the hosts as Ward denied hard-chasing Andersen. With light rain falling, Troy Batchelor headed home Holder and Sam Masters to finally end the Poole winning streak in another 3-3.
Kasprzak was awarded a victory next up but Pirates again paid a heavy price for a fall on the now damp surface when Kling spun out of control on turn one when sitting pretty in third position.
The action was suspended for more than half an hour with rain persistently coming down at Wimborne Road.
On the resumption, the action immediately burst to life as the two heavyweights exchanged maximums. Robins hit Pirates hard to storm into the lead when Morris dived under Masters and Eklof to superbly lead home a 5-1.
However, Pawlicki forgot about his earlier problems to rocket away from the tapes and stick with rapid Ward to return fire for Pirates.
Holder blasted clear next up and with Masters improving sufficiently to hold off a struggling Jason Doyle, the Pirates faithful roared their approval as their heroes opened up a 32-28 lead.
They were soon stunned into silence, though, as Robins refused to throw in the towel. Impressive duo Andersen and Morris shock-ed the previously undefeated Kasprzak to level matters at 33-33.
The top-of-the-table showdown was living up to expectations and Ward blitzed Kildemand and Lampart as the scores remained level before the big guns took to the tapes in heat 13. And fans went from the edge of their seats to the tips of their toes as they jumped for joy to salute a 5-1 from Kasprzak and Holder.
Defending a four-point cushion, Pirates looked in a spot of bother when Lampart and Doyle got out in front in heat 14. But Pawlicki was having none of it. His night had started with the ridiculous but he went to the sublime in the space of 60 spellbinding seconds. The teenager launched himself wide into turn one and not content with picking off one Swindon man, he sliced between both Robins to hit the front before roaring to the chequered flag and receiving a standing ovation from the bouncing grandstand.
Turbo Twins Ward and Holder were unsurprisingly given the task of trying to seal maximum league points against Andersen and Kildemand in the finale.
Requiring a 5-1, the Australian sensations produced a trademark heat-15 showpiece to pocket the three points. As the Poole faithful again roared their approval, the message was clear. More of the same, please.
Pirates 49: 1 Chris Holder (3-2-3-2*-3) 13+1, 2 Sam Masters (0-1*-0-1) 2+1, 3 Darcy Ward (3-3-3-3-2*) 14+1, 4 Piotr Pawlicki (f-f-2*-3) 5+1, 5 Krzysztof Kasprzak (3-3-1-3) 10, 6 Ricky Kling (3-f-0-0) 3, 7 Linus Eklof (1-0-1-0) 2. Team manager: Neil Middleditch .
Robins 41: 1 Hans Andersen (1*-2-3-1-1) 8+1, 2 Nick Morris (2-1*-3-2*) 8+2, 3 Peter Kildemand (2-2-2-2-r) 8, 4 Jason Doyle (1*-1*-0-2) 4+2, 5 Troy Batchelor (2-3-1-0) 6, 6 Simon Stead (2-0-0) 2, 7 Dawid Lampart (0-1*-2*-1*-1*) 5+4. Team manager: Alun Rossiter.
Points: Poole 3 Swindon 0.
Referee: Dan Holt .
Ht 1: Holder, Morris, Andersen, Masters, 60.50 (3-3) Ht 2: Kling, Stead, Eklof, Lampart, 61.40 (7-5) Ht 3: Ward, Kildemand, Doyle, Pawlicki (fell), 60.15 (10-8) Ht 4: Kasprzak, Batchelor, Lampart, Eklof, 61.03 (13-11) Ht 5: Ward, Andersen, Morris, Pawlicki (fell), 60.50 (16-14) Ht 6: Batchelor, Holder, Masters, Stead, 61.53 (19-17) Ht 7: (awarded) Kasprzak, Kildemand, Doyle, Kling (fell) (22-20) Ht 8: Morris, Lampart, Eklof, Masters, 63.50 (23-25) Ht 9: Ward, Pawlicki, Batchelor, Stead, 61.72 (28-26) Ht 10: Holder, Kildemand, Masters, Doyle, 61.22 (32-28) Ht 11: Andersen, Morris, Kasprzak, Kling, 61.47 (33-33) Ht 12: Ward, Kildemand, Lampart, Eklof, 61.03 (36-36) Ht 13: Kasprzak, Holder, Andersen, Batchelor, 61.22 (41-37) Ht 14: Pawlicki, Doyle, Lampart, Kling, 61.19 (44-40) Ht 15: Holder, Ward, Andersen, Kildemand (retired), 61.06 (49-41)