STUNNED Neil Middleditch watched Pirates grab a last-gasp play-off spot before insisting his team would “fear nobody” in the showpiece clashes.

Patched-up Poole needed a win at Somerset tonight to earn a top-four berth in the SGB Premiership and they recovered from 10 points down – thanks in part to a Brady Kurtz tactical ride – to trail by a point heading into the final heat.

Kurtz and skipper Hans Andersen then held their nerve in a dramatic finale to roar to a 5-1 and grab an exhilarating 48-45 win at the Oaktree Arena.

Fifth-place Rye House had earlier beaten Swindon 46-29 but Pirates’ late heroics meant the Rockets’ hopes were shattered.

Team boss Middleditch can now contemplate the prospect of a 14th foray into the play-offs in 17 years with Poole, table-toppers Swindon, Wolverhampton and Belle Vue being the other qualifiers.

Reflecting on a rollercoaster night, Middleditch told the Daily Echo: “I was riding all the races with the boys. It was a tremendous result. When we were 10 points down, it looked like it was slipping away from us.

“I was tempted to put Edward Kennett in heat 15 but he didn’t feel quick enough. When push comes to shove, Hans Andersen tends to have a way of pulling things out of the bag and he did that.

“Brady was very disappointed with his first ride but he made a few changes and was outstanding after that. They all were, everyone played their part.

“When we ride as a team, we are dangerous. It all starts again now and anything can happen. We fear nobody but we need everyone on top of their game.”

Somerset banked an opening 4-2 led in by Josh Grajczonek, with former Rebels rider Kurtz trailing at the back.

Timo Lahti then salvaged a shared heat but Charles Wright and Patrick Hougaard earned an awarded 5-1 after Paul Starke fell.

Another maximum followed when Richard Lawson rounded Andersen but back came Pirates, Kurtz donning the black-and-white helmet and blasting to victory.

Grajczonek picked up his second win in a shared heat six and Starke failed to finish again as the Rebels sealed a 4-2 in heat seven.

The meeting appeared to be fading out of sight when Wright and Lewis Kerr nailed a 4-2 but Lahti and Andersen started the fightback with a tapes-to-flag success.

Starke then got his first win with Kennett just behind him, leaving Poole one point adrift.

Race 11, won by Lawson, was shared and the same result followed next, even after Kerr had demolished the tapes and been replaced by Kevin Doolan.

The exclusion of Lawson in heat 13 appeared to give Pirates fresh hope but Grajczonek kept out Kurtz and Andersen.

And although Kennett superbly forced his way to the front in heat 14, Lahti could only finish at the back.

So it was left to Kurtz and Andersen to finish the job at the latest possible juncture – in the final race.


Somerset 45: 1 Josh Grajczonek (3-3-1-3-r) 10, 2 Cameron Heeps r/r , 3 Charles Wright (3-2-3-1-3) 12, 4 Patrick Hougaard (2*-0-0-2) 4+1, 5 Richard Lawson (3-3-3-fx-1) 10, 6 Kevin Doolan, guest (1-2-0-0-0) 3, 7 Lewis Kerr (1*-2*-1-1-0-tr-1*) 6+3.

Pirates 48: 1 Brady Kurtz (0-6^-1*-2-3) 12+1, 2 Jack Holder r/r, 3 Paul Starke (fx-r-2-3-1*) 6+1, 4 Edward Kennett (1-2-2*-2-3) 10+1, 5 Hans Andersen (1-2-2*-1*-2*) 8+3, 6 Timo Lahti (2-3-1-1*-3-2-0) 12+1, 7 Georgie Wood, guest (0-0-r) 0.

HT 1: Grajczonek, Lahti, Doolan, Kurtz, 56.97 (4-2)

HT 2: Lahti, Doolan, Kerr, Wood, 57.50 (7-5)

HT 3: Wright, Hougaard, Kennett, Starke (fell/dsq), awarded (12-6)

HT 4: Lawson, Kerr, Andersen, Wood (retired), 57.62 (17-7)

HT 5: Kurtz (tactical), Wright, Lahti, Hougaard, 57.57 (19-14)

HT 6: Grajczonek, Andersen, Lahti, Doolan, 57.57 (22-17)

HT 7: Lawson, Kennett, Kerr, Starke (retired), 57.75 (26-19)

HT 8: Wright, Starke, Kerr, Wood (retired), 57.81 (30-21)

HT 9: Lahti, Andersen, Wright, Hougaard, 58.50 (31-26)

HT 10: Starke, Kennett, Grajczonek, Kerr, 58.37 (32-31)

HT 11: Lawson, Kennett, Kurtz, Doolan, 57.57 (35-34)

HT 12 (re-run): Wright, Lahti, Starke, Doolan, Kerr (tapes/replaced), 58.47 (38-37)

HT 13 (re-run): Grajczonek, Kurtz, Andersen, Lawson (fell/dsq), 59.72 (41-40)

HT 14: Kennett, Hougaard, Kerr, Lahti, 59.34 (44-43)

HT 15: Kurtz, Andersen, Lawson, Grajczonek (retired), 59.14 (45-48)


WHEN it came to the crunch, Brady Kurtz won the big races. 

The young Aussie has delivered in spades for Poole this year and the meeting at the Oaktree Arena – his old stamping ground – was no exception.

Having failed to score on his first ride, Kurtz bounced back with a tactical win.

And when it came down to one heat for Poole to earn a play-off place, the 20-year-old showed he had the mettle for the big moment by winning it.

Credit also to Edward Kennett who had a very impressive night, as did Timo Lahti... again.