DARCY Ward’s name reverberated around Wimborne Road as Pirates and Swindon fans rallied around the stricken Aussie ace.

But for all the well wishes and the lucrative collection for the clubs’ mutual hero, there was no quarter given on the track as the Robins laid down a marker for the Elite League semi-finals by snatching a 45-45 draw.

Poole sealed top spot in the table with victory at Leicester last Thursday and must now pick their opponents for the play-off semi-finals, which get under way next Monday.

Belle Vue defeated Wolverhampton 57-36 at Monmore Green last night to book their place in the top four, meaning Pirates can select the Aces, last season’s finalists Coventry or the Robins. But on last night’s evidence, Poole may give Swindon a wide berth.

Pirates started the night in stellar form with Davey Watt and Chris Holder teaming up for an opening 5-1 over SGP star Troy Batchelor, before reserve rocket Kyle Newman got the better of Robins’ Charles Wright to lead partner Paul Starke to a 4-2 in heat two.

Watt and Starke joined forces to extend Poole’s advantage to eight with a 4-2 in heat five, but Pirates were shaken by a superb Swindon maximum in heat six as Batchelor and Grzegorz Zengota overhauled Kacper Gomolski, while Dakota North pulled up at the back.

Heat seven was stopped when Kildemand spun off at the front on bend three, with Janowski working wonders to lay the bike down and avoid him.

Magic picked himself up and led Holder to a 4-2 over Robins’ Nick Morris in the re-run.

Gomolski’s final-lap engine failure proved expensive in race eight as Wright and Aaron Summers charged through on the penultimate turn for a Swindon 5-1. Kildemand’s commanding win over Watt in heat nine, coupled with third for Wright then levelled the meeting at 27-27.

Wins for Janowski in heat 10 and Holder in race 11 maintained parity, with Wright victorious in the second reserves race ahead of Newman and Starke.

Pirates got a much-needed break with a sublime maximum from Holder and Janowski in heat 13 to go four up.

But Swindon made them sweat. North ended a poor night without a point as he crashed out of heat 14 on bend three while challenging Morris.

Gomolski hit the front in the re-run, but a haphazard last lap gave Morris a sniff of victory and the Aussie snatched a 4-2 on the line.

Swindon took full advantage as Kildemand rode a wheel-perfect heat 15 to see off Janowski, while Zengota overhauled Holder on lap three for the heat advantage needed to rescue a draw.