PIRATES face an uphill task to reach the SGB Premiership play-off final after Kyle Newman returned to haunt his parent club three months after being axed by promoter Matt Ford.

Newman bagged eight paid nine in a guest booking for Swindon, who will take a 46-44 advantage back to Blunsdon for the second leg of the semi-final in a fortnight.

A three-time winner of the Elite League crown with Poole, Newman received a mixed reception in the pre-meeting introduction, with a handful of jeers only appearing to inspire the Puddletown-based ace on the track.

And sizeable hauls from Tobiasz Musielak and Jason Doyle were also big contributors to a successful night’s work for the visitors.

Pirates team boss Neil Middleditch had a full side available with the in-form Timo Lahti moving into the top five and Paul Starke dropping to reserve.

Swindon brought in Newman to guest at the 11th hour in the absence of Bradley Wilson-Dean, who was ruled out despite 24 hours earlier banking an eight paid 10 haul for Peterborough on his comeback from a wrist injury.

Newman took his place at reserve alongside Edinburgh’s Mitch Davey, a replacement for Zach Wajtknecht.

Pirates were on a 5-1 in the opener but Grand Prix star Doyle reeled in the second-place Jack Holder by the end of lap two. His Swindon team-mate Adam Ellis found speed around the boards and the young Brit survived a turn-three scare on the last lap to pip Holder on the line.

A maximum was again on the cards in heat two, only for matters to take another dramatic twist. Starke steamed well ahead only to retire with bike problems with less than a lap to go. But James Shanes ensured a shared heat by keeping Newman and Davey at arm’s length.

Swindon then inched ahead thanks to a 4-2 led by Tobiasz Musielak and it would have been worse had Edward Kennett not clung on after seemingly hitting a rut on turn four.

Hans Andersen was comfortable en route to heat four success, all the action behind him as Shanes made up ground on Davey to pass on the final turn.

Next, a gutsy pass from Kennett on the back straight of lap one got him beyond Ellis and into a leading position he never relinquished, but Lahti could not make an impact having failed to fire from the tapes.

Kurtz came out on top following a compelling battle with Newman in heat six and Holder looked set to give the same treatment to Nick Morris in the duel for third, only to come to grief as he made his move with two turns remaining.

Andersen twice passed Musielak in heat seven but the Pole instantly bit back, with Starke just missing out on second after Andersen fell out of contention. The Robins had the first 5-1.

Swindon made it to the second track grading with a five-point lead intact – but only just. Holder was the winner of race eight after ripping past Newman early on. The latter then went toe-to-toe with Puddletown neighbour Shanes and by the virtue of half a wheel, won the battle.

Poole were not making up ground and in heat nine, they lost more of it, Newman leading in Morris for a maximum.

The inspired meeting of Musielak continued in heat 10, the Robins rider ending Kurtz’s 100 per cent record. And David Bellego profited from the early woes of Holder to finish third.

The Poole faithful were far from impressed when referee Mick Bates elected to bring all four riders back when it appeared Doyle had fallen of his own accord.

In the re-run, Andersen just got the edge into the first turn and Starke negotiated a route beyond Ellis for a much-needed home heat advantage.

Shanes again produced a battling ride in race 12, his effort rewarded when he dipped inside Newman for third with two turns remaining. Starke took the chequered flag out front and Poole were six points adrift.

But just as it seemed Pirates were getting up a head of steam, Swindon hit back. Andersen and Kurtz seemed to get in each other’s way in heat 13 and Doyle and Morris were gone in a flash. Somewhat surprisingly, it was Doyle’s first win of the night.

The penultimate race saw Starke and Kennett make the gate, with Bellego’s challenge to split the pair proving too little, too late.

Andersen and Kurtz gave Poole hope heading into the decisive leg with a last-heat 5-1 which could yet prove vital.


Pirates 44: 1 Brady Kurtz (3-3-2-0) , 2 Jack Holder (0-f-3-0) 3, 3 Timo Lahti (0-0-1) 1, 4 Edward Kennett (2-3-0-2*) 7+1, 5 Hans Andersen (3-0-3-1) , 6 Paul Starke (r-1-1-3-3) 8, 7 James Shanes (3-1-0-1) 5.

Swindon 46: 1 Jason Doyle (2-2-2-3) , 2 Adam Ellis (1*-1*-2t-0) 4+2, 3 Tobiasz Musielak (3-2*-3-2) , 4 David Bellego (1-3-1-1) 6, 5 Nick Morris (2-1*-2*-2*) 7+3, 6 Kyle Newman, guest (2-2-1*-3-0) 8+1, 7 Mitchell Davey, guest (1*-0-0) 1+1.

HT 1: Kurtz, Doyle, Ellis, Holder, 61.37 (3-3)

HT 2: Shanes, Newman, Davey, Starke (retired), 63.13 (6-6)

HT 3: Musielak, Kennett, Bellego, Lahti, 61.88 (8-10)

HT 4: Andersen, Morris, Shanes, Davey, 62.41 (12-12)

HT 5: Kennett, Doyle, Ellis, Lahti, 61.41 (15-15)

HT 6: Kurtz, Newman, Morris, Holder (fell), 62.69 (18-18)

HT 7: Bellego, Musielak, Starke, Andersen, 62.90 (19-23)

HT 8 (re-run): Holder, Ellis (15m/tapes), Newman, Shanes, 62.19 (22-26)

HT 9: Newman, Morris, Lahti, Kennett, 62.47 (23-31)

HT 10: Musielak, Kurtz, Bellego, Holder, 61.78 (25-35)

HT 11 (re-run): Andersen, Doyle, Starke, Ellis, 61.56 (29-37) 

HT 12: Starke, Musielak, Shanes, Newman, 61.94 (33-39)

HT 13: Doyle, Morris, Andersen, Kurtz, 61.87 (34-44)

HT 14 (re-run): Starke, Kennett, Bellego, Davey, 62.22 (39-45)

HT 15 (re-run): Andersen, Kurtz, Doyle, Musielak (retired) 62.68 (44-46)


IT HAS been a tough spell for Paul Starke and a drop to reserve certainly benefited him.

How he ended the night with just eight points was anyone’s guess.

Unlucky to finish with no points instead of three in his first ride, he gave a string of energetic displays and a haul of eight was the least he deserved.

Starke’s fellow reserve James Shanes should also receive great credit, while Edward Kennett was one ride short of undoubted excellence.