BRADY Kurtz endured a difficult start to the defence of his Australian title – and fellow Pirates charger Jack Holder also found the going tough.

The 20-year-old Kurtz, who won the Aussie crown in his debut series 12 months ago, opened with a five-point haul at Gillman this time round.

And Poole's off-season recruit Holder fared only slightly better on six points.

As a result, neither rider finished in the top seven and therefore failed to make the A or B finals.

Pirates asset Davey Watt continued his fine form by taking victory at the Adelaide track, with Justin Sedgmen – second in the A final – topping the standings on 14 points.

The second round is due to take place at Mildura on Saturday, with further meetings at Undera and Kurri Kurri following on Wednesday, January 11 and Saturday, January 14, respectively.

Gillman A final: Davey Watt, Justin Sedgmen, Troy Batchelor, Nick Morris. B final: Troy Batchelor, Rohan Tungate, Max Fricke, Nick Morris.

Overall standings: Davey Watt 17, Justin Sedgmen 17, Nick Morris 14, Troy Batchelor 12, Rohan Tungate 10, Sam Masters 10, Max Fricke 9, Ty Proctor 6, Jack Holder 6, Jaimon Lidsey 5, Todd Kurtz 5, Brady Kurtz 5, Josh Pickering 5, Cooper Riordan 4, Mason Campton 3, Jordan Stewart 2.