PIRATES have made a habit of leaving things late this year, but they could still end 2012 with a trophy in the last week of the season.

Team boss Neil Middleditch’s men eased to a 51-39 triumph over Peterborough in the first leg of the Knockout Cup semi-final at Wimborne Road tonight.

And they will fancy their chances of defending that 12-point advantage at the East of England Showground in the decider tomorrow night.

But, with just four heats remaining, Pirates must have been sweating over earning a date with arch-rivals Coventry in the final, scheduled for Brandon on Friday and Poole on Monday.

They went into heat 12 just four points up on the Panthers – a lead which would have been a real test to defend. Fortunately for Poole, they kicked into gear at the perfect time.

Pirates guest Niels-Kristian Iversen followed up his 4-2 with Ludvig Lindgren in race 10 with another in heat 12.

The race saw Ricky Kling snatch a vital third place after Panthers’ Michael Jepsen Jensen lifted on lap two, turn two and gifted the Swede a chance to pounce.

It was Kling’s only point in five races and a vocal minority of fans in the Wimborne Road grandstand booed the former Lakeside man as he looked badly off the pace early on.

The inconsistency of Poole’s bottom three has been their Achilles heel all season and last night was no different.

To be fair, Lindgren can go home with his head held high after reeling off four thirds and ending with a second. Third places earn teams heat advantages, but he will need to maintain this form if Pirates are to reach the final and have a hope of beating the Bees.

As ever, Poole had their big guns to fire them out of jail. World champion Chris Holder rocketed from the tapes to win heat 13. Kasprzak joined him for the 5-1.

Despite being beaten out of the start by Panthers guest Scott Nicholls, he quickly built up speed and powered under the British champion on turn four.

That put Poole 44-34 up and Peterborough took their chance to bring Nicholls back on track for one of the Knockout Cup’s man-on-man match races with Holder.

The Pirate had to win to deny the visitors an extra three points and this one was over at the first turn.

Holder cut Nicholls off ruthlessly and was half a straight ahead within a blink of an eye to ensure the scores stayed the same.

Poole reserves Lindgren and Linus Eklof conceded a 4-2 to Rene Bach and Jason Bunyan in heat 14 after Bach rounded Lindgren for the win on bend four.

That cut the deficit from 10 points to eight, meaning the Panthers no longer had the 10-point deficit required to call a second man-on-man match race before the nominated heat.

Holder and Kasprzak duly took to the shale and added four points to the Poole advantage with a maximum over a hard-charging Nicholls.

But after being left to settle for Elite League silver medals against Swindon, Holder and Kasprzak will hope the team’s lower order can finally find their stride and help them save Poole’s season.