MAXIMUM man Chris Holder and Kyle Newman put Pirates on course for their seventh straight Elite League Grand Final after inspiring them to a 51-39 play-off semi-final, first leg win at home to Wolverhampton tonight.

Holder roared to a 14 paid 15-point full house, while local hero Kyle Newman was simply sensational on 12 paid 14 as the defending champions earned a 12-point cushion to take to Monmore Green for the second leg on Monday.

The semi showdown saw two of world speedway’s finest given a stark reminder that Elite League speedway is a tough business. Returning Poole hero Antonio Lindback and Wolves’ world champion Tai Woffinden had to work overtime for their points.

The Rio Rocket has hardly seen the Wimborne Road circuit for 10 years and managed five paid six points, while Woffy bagged seven paid eight after two last places in his opening rides.

Pirates got the better of a gripping contest and their success stemmed from a storming start. Brady Kurtz hit the front in heat one, while Holder forced SGP rival Freddie Lindgren wide on turn two for a 5-1.

The Pirates reserves matched their efforts with another maximum led by Adam Ellis heat two.

Newman left himself work to do, but did it in typical swashbuckling style. He tore round Wolves rider Max Clegg on turn two, before swooping past Kyle Howarth on lap three, bend three to claim second spot.

Lindback was keen to continue this momentum in his first race back in blue and white, but was brilliantly clamped on the kerb by Jacob Thorssell in the opening exchanges of heat three.

The Avesta-based ace worked wonders to stay on two wheels as Thorssell led Sam Masters to a Wolves 5-1.

Pirates feared they were in for a hard night with Woffinden racing in a cushy No.4 berth. But he had no answer for Newman, who appears a man inspired at the sharp end of the season. After a false start in heat four, the Pirate rocketed from the tapes again to triumph.

Woffy and partner Howarth couldn’t get near him as Pirates’ Polish charger Krzysztof Buczkowski caused them absolute mayhem.

On top of the Pole’s attentions, the double world champion was held up by slower team mate Howarth.

Buczkowski was in no mood to wait around. He rocketed around Woffy on lap four, turn two for third to secure a huge 4-2.

Pirates could do nothing to stop Karlsson in race five, before Masters thundered past Pedersen on lap two to win heat six, and Lindgren repeated the trick a lap later for the 5-1.

Lindback returned to the track in heat seven, determined to get on the scoreboard. Holder made his life easier with a comfortable win, while the Swede chased down Woffinden.

The Scunthorpe-born star was relegated to the back for the second time with a brilliant Lindback move around the white line on lap two, bend one, before he was denied second by Thorssell, who restricted Pirates to a 4-2.

Buczkowski doubled Poole’s lead to eight in heat eight, leading Newman to a maximum ahead of Howarth and Karlsson.

Wolves fought back with Woffinden making a perfect start to get his first points on the board and win heat nine.

The battle for third got brutal, when Howarth took Ellis to the fence on lap two, turn four. The Ringwood-based man did well to stay on the bike after being left with nowhere to go, and Pirates fans were rightly fuming when referee Chris Gay declined to stop the race and exclude Howarth for an over-zealous move.

Pirates duo Newman and Lindback filled the minor places behind Lindgren in heat 10 to maintain their six-point edge.

Poole’s Aussie aces then sent them eight up, with Holder diving under Thorssell on lap two, turn one to win race 11, and Kurtz blasting under Masters for third on bend four.

Newman completed the outstanding performance of his season in heat 12 with a barnstorming move under Howarth going into the penultimate turn to put Pirates 10 ahead with a 4-2 alongside third-placed Ellis.

Lindback overcame his sluggish starts to grab his first Poole league win for a decade when he rocketed under Masters on lap two, turn one to take victory in heat 13, and hand Holder the space he needed to dive into second.

Woffinden charged past Buczkowski to win heat 14, but the Pole held off Thorssell nicely to restrict Wolves to a 4-2.

Holder then capped off a magnificent maximum by passing Lindgren to triumph in the nominated race and send Poole to Monmore 12 points up and in pole position for Grand Final qualification.