HANS Andersen backed Pirates' riders to spring a play-off surprise against hotly-tipped Swindon – after insisting the Robins had lost firepower.

The Poole skipper is tomorrow due to lead his troops into battle at Wimborne Road against a team which scorched to top spot in the SGB Premiership's regular-season standings.

Having put together a sensational 17-match winning run during June, July and August, Swindon are widely viewed as favourites for the two-legged clash with their fierce rivals.

Nevertheless, Pirates have won six of their past seven meetings and Danish star Andersen feels his team are capable of defeating the Robins for the first time this season (7.30pm).

He told the Daily Echo: “Swindon are a strong team but some of their riders have been over-riding and they have had some injuries. I don’t underestimate them at all but they are on paper a little bit weaker than when we faced them before.

“They have been the team in form but the play-offs start now so it doesn’t matter. When we beat them, people won’t remember them for going 17 matches unbeaten, they will remember them for being beaten by Poole.

“I have every belief in myself and my team. The team has got better and better over the past few weeks. In mid-August, suddenly we were winning matches at home for fun.

“The team spirit is tremendous. It’s nice to have a team of seven riders who walk the track together, get changed together and talk with each other in the pits.

“At the end of the day, it’s a team effort, it’s not about the number one or the number whoever, it’s about Poole Pirates as a team."

Andersen has two British top-flight crowns to his name, the second of which came at Wimborne Road in 2012 when he helped Swindon seal an aggregate victory in the final.

In fact, the 36-year-old's teams from British shores have qualified for the play-offs in every season since that year.

The former Grand Prix ace's closest call since his last title success was in 2014 when Coventry were well beaten by Pirates in the final. He missed out on Poole's play-off campaign last year due to injury.

Andersen added: “I’m desperate to win with Poole. It’s the club I have been with longest in England and it's a club I’ve never won the league with.

“We’ve come close to winning it before and I never made any secret of the reason I came to Poole – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

“I’m pretty hungry because I haven’t won the title for five years. I want to lift the trophy, spray the champagne and enjoy myself.

“The team has improved in recent weeks and that improvement is everywhere, all the way down to Shanesie.

“Everybody in the team is really enjoying themselves and everybody has picked up their performances. We are here to win, not just to make up the numbers."