PIRATES showed they were not willing to surrender their SGB Premiership crown after a dramatic comeback saw them take a 50-40 semi-final first-leg victory over Ipswich at Wimborne Road.

The defending champions will take a 10-point advantage into the second leg at Foxhall on Saturday, having rallied in the second half on home shale to come back from 12 points down.

Neil Middleditch’s men somehow recorded five straight 5-1s from heats 11 to 15 to turn the contest on its head.

Number one Brady Kurtz (12) led the charge for the Dorset club, backed up by reserve rocket Thomas H Jonasson (10+1).

Pirates went into the contest having picked Ipswich as their semi-final opponents, after winning a week previously at King’s Lynn to top the pile.

Drama ensued in the first heat of the night as a heavy downpour of rain greeted riders at the tapes.

Poole had surged out of the gate thanks to race winner Kurtz and Nico Covatti.

But having been passed by Grand Prix star Niels-Kristian Iversen, Argentinian Covatti ended up hitting the deck in the treacherous conditions, meaning Cameron Heeps claimed third.

With Poole reserve Ricky Wells keen to get on with things in the reserves’ contest, he was judged to have touched the tapes and had been forced to go from a 15-metre handicap in the re-run.

But some heroics from the American saw him salvage third spot and keep the scores level.

With Ipswich’s Jake Allen sealing the race win ahead of Jonasson, Wells managed to push hard round the outside to pass James Sarjeant and join his Poole partner in the minor placings.

But having threatened to draw first blood, the visitors gained a one-two to open up a gap in heat three.

With Richard Lawson winning from the gate, ex-Poole star Chris Harris put in a gutsy ride to charge through into second ahead of trailing Pirates Josh Grajczonek and Nicolai Klindt.

Things got even worse for the hosts in race four, as Ipswich opened up a 16-8 advantage on the night with another 5-1.

Allen led home visiting skipper Danny King ahead of Jack Holder and Wells – putting the visitors well in command.

Pirates continued to be frustrated as they failed to take advantage in a shared heat five.

While Heeps suffered mechanical problems at the start, Iversen dived up the inside of Klindt to take the chequered flag.

Aussie Kurtz’s second win of the night then paved the way for Poole to reduce the deficit.

King swooped past Covatti to split the home pairing, who earned a 4-2 – their first advantage of the meeting.

But it was another emphatic 5-1 from the Witches which put them a staggering 10 points up after seven races. Lawson again led home Harris, this time ahead of Holder and Jonasson.

Allen made it three wins on the bounce from reserve after he surged away from second-placed Covatti in race eight. With Heeps holding off the challenge of Wells by less than a wheel for third, the Witches led by 12.

After team boss Neil Middleditch had held a meeting in the pits with his charges, Poole responded with one of their most trusted pairings in heat nine.

Danish star Klindt led home skipper Grajczonek for a 5-1 ahead of King and Sarjeant.

But the visitors wrestled back momentum once again and it was that man Harris who was a thorn in the side of the defending champions.

He breezed past Covatti to take the chequered flag, with Lawson beating Kurtz at the back.

Holder then came to the party as he spearheaded a much-needed 5-1 for Pirates against the formidable duo of Iversen and Allen in race 11 – closing to six points the gap overall.

A dramatic heat 12 then saw both Jonasson and Harris hit the fence in a nasty-looking crash. With the Swede out in front, Harris attempted to manoeuvre up the inside and clipped the Pirates’ reserve.

Referee Christina Turnbull excluded the British star, with Jonasson and Klindt awarded a 5-1 ahead of Allen.

After a lengthy delay to repair the air fence, a sublime 5-1 from Kurtz and Holder over Iversen and King somehow saw the hosts take a remarkable two-point advantage on the night.

And the first-leg triumph was somehow sealed after a fourth successive 5-1 in the penultimate heat.

Jonasson, who was nursing his shoulder after the earlier spill, took the spoils on the line from Grajczonek having picked himself up off the shale. They had the advantage over Allen and Lawson.

Aussie duo Kurtz and Holder then teamed up for another 5-1 maximum advantage in the nominated race.