PIRATES must overturn a 52-38 first-leg defeat if they are to reach the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup after Somerset proved too strong at the Oaktree Arena.

Neil Middleditch's troops trailed from the off and all attempted comebacks were quickly snuffed out by a home side inspired by Pirates asset Jack Holder.

Question marks remain over a Poole team which has now lost four in a row in competitive meetings, three of those defeats being by a significant margin.

And promoter Matt Ford will hope his septet is an improved proposition by the time the second leg is staged at Wimborne Road in two months' time.

On a heavy track, Pirates were quickly under the cosh.

Jake Allen got away well and world champion Jason Doyle slotted in behind him, allowing the Rebels to secure a straightforward 5-1.

Another maximum followed, Jonas Jeppesen wrapping up a gate-and-go success. Bradley Wilson-Dean snuck past James Shanes on turn four of lap one and Mateusz Szczepaniak trailed at the back.

Former Somerset skipper Josh Grajczonek then got the visitors off the mark and it could have been a Poole 5-1 had Linus Sundstrom not been expertly denied by Holder, who moved to Highbridge in the winter.

Heat four was a low-key, shared affair in which Wilson-Dean continued his flying start by rounding Peter Kildemand on turn two, meaning the visitors remained six points adrift.

Woryna put behind him a disappointing retirement in race one by storming to heat five success. Pirates spearhead Brady Kurtz was on the tail of Holder throughout but the latter was in no mood to do his close friend any favours.

Following extensive track work, Doyle steamed into the distance and with Allen in third behind Kildemand, the lead was back to six.

Heat seven was shared with normal service resuming for Richard Lawson, who had opened with a retirement but was well ahead of Grajczonek and Sundstrom in his second outing.

A ding-dong battle between Woryna and Wilson-Dean proved the highlight of heat eight, the former rounding his rival on the final turn. But a Somerset 4-2 left Pirates with work to do.

That task toughened when Charles Wright picked himself up from a first-bend spill to follow in Holder for a maximum in a re-run heat nine which saw Kildemand fall, remount, then retire.

However, a slow start from Doyle handed Grajczonek and Sundstrom a gift which they gleefully seized, the duo roaring to a priceless maximum.

Somerset hit straight back, though, Lawson heading a 4-2 before Grajczonek's fine run ended in heat 12, the visiting skipper retiring as the Rebels' lead extended to 14.

A first heat win for Kurtz at the expense of Doyle was supplemented by Kildemand stealing third on the line from Lawson.

But although Sundstrom gated in heat 14, Holder and Jeppesen blasted through for a 5-1, setting up a crucial finale.

Doyle was replaced by Wilson-Dean after powering through the tapes and Kurtz and Grajczonek finished either side of Holder in the re-run.


Somerset 52: 1 Jason Doyle (2*-3-1-2-x) 8+1, 2 Jake Allen (3-1-3-0) 7, 3 Charles Wright (0-0-2*-2*) 4+2, 4 Jack Holder (2-2-3-3-2) 12, 5 Richard Lawson (r-3-3-0) 6, 6 Jonas Jeppesen (3-0-1-2*) 6+1, 7 Bradley Wilson-Dean (2*-3-1-3-0) 9+1.

Pirates 38: 1 Brady Kurtz (1-1-2-3-3) 10, 2 Kacper Woryna (r-3-2-0) 5, 3 Josh Grajczonek (3-2-3-r-1) 9, 4 Linus Sundstrom (1-1*-2*-1) 5+2, 5 Peter Kildemand (2-2-f-1) 5, 6 Mateusz Szczepaniak (0-1*-0-0) 1+1, 7 James Shanes (1-0-1-1) 3.

HT 1: Allen, Doyle, Kurtz, Woryna (retired), 57.10 (5-1)

HT 2: Jeppesen, Wilson-Dean, Shanes, Szczepaniak, 57.97 (10-2)

HT 3: Grajczonek, Holder, Sundstrom, Wright, 57.28 (12-6)

HT 4: Wilson-Dean, Kildemand, Szczepaniak, Lawson (retired), 57.43 (15-9)

HT 5: Woryna, Holder, Kurtz, Wright, 57.92 (17-13)

HT 6: Doyle, Kildemand, Allen, Shanes, 57.30 (21-15)

HT 7: Lawson, Grajczonek, Sundstrom, Jeppesen, 58.71 (24-18)

HT 8: Allen, Woryna, Wilson-Dean, Szczepaniak, 58.07 (28-20)

HT 9 (re-run): Holder, Wright, Shanes, Kildemand (fell/rem and retired), 58.58 (33-21)

HT 10: Grajczonek, Sundstrom, Doyle, Allen, 58.36 (34-26)

HT 11: Lawson, Kurtz, Jeppesen, Woryna, 58.83 (38-28)

HT 12: Wilson-Dean, Wright, Shanes, Grajczonek (retired), 58.97 (43-29)

HT 13: Kurtz, Doyle, Kildemand, Lawson, 58.02 (45-33)

HT 14: Holder, Jeppesen, Sundstrom, Szczepaniak, 58.97 (50-34)

HT 15 (re-run): Kurtz, Holder, Grajczonek, Wilson-Dean, Doyle (tapes/rep), 58.70 (52-38)


NOT a single Pirates rider was consistently impressive at the Oaktree Arena but Brady Kurtz and Josh Grajczonek came closest to that description.

Both had a couple of rides they would rather forget but both also produced three efforts which kept Poole in the tie.

Kurtz edges it for his heat 15 outing against an inspired Jack Holder but Grajczonek can certainly be content with his nine-point haul.

Weaknesses elsewhere will concern Pirates boss Matt Ford, with Mateusz Szczepaniak's third straight below-par score a potential worry.