PIRATES suffered last-heat agony on their return to racing for the first time in more than 600 days.

The Wimborne Road outfit had led for 14 heats of their first SGB Championship contest of the season at Eastbourne, before Lewis Kerr and Richard Lawson teamed up with a 5-1 in the heat 15 to seal a 45-44 victory for the hosts.

Steve Worrall, who came third in the finale, was Pirates’ top scorer on the night with 13 points, with fellow heat leaders Danny King (9) and Rory Schlein (8+1) also chipping in.

But Kerr (12+1) and Lawson (10) ensured Pirates took just one league point away from their south coast rivals in dramatic circumstances.

Despite having to wait more than 20 months to get back on track, Poole’s return to action was given the perfect start in heat one at Arlington - even if it was at the third attempt.

Eastbourne number one Edward Kennett was excluded after falling on his own on the opening bend first time round. All three riders then hit the deck in the re-run.

At the third time of asking, Tom Brennan had passed Poole duo Zane Keleher and Rory Schlein before seeing his bike pack up on the second lap.

That gifted the visitors an opening 5-0 as they looked to stamp their authority on the contest.

Jason Edwards then took the spoils for the hosts in the reserves’ heat but Ben Cook capitalised on a mistake from Eastbourne’s Drew Kemp to restrict the hosts to a 4-2.

Worrall ensured his first heat win in Pirates colours in a shared heat three, former Pirate Kyle Newman had passed Stefan Nielsen into third behind Lewis Kerr.

Pirates increased their lead thanks to skipper King and rising star signing Danyon Hume teaming up for a one-two in heat four – the pair coming home in front of Richard Lawson and Kemp.

Kerr took the chequered flag in race five, with Schlein passing Newman into second to ensure Pirates had a 17-12 advantage after five heats.

The Eagles responded however and cut the deficit to a solitary point with a 5-1 of their own. Brennan and Kennett flew out the gate and finished ahead of King and Aussie youngster Cook.

Worrall then made it two from two in in emphatic fashion after leading from the gate in race seven – Nielsen was also comfortably in front of Eastbourne duo Edwards and Lawson, as Pirates surged into a 23-18 advantage.

The Eagles held a team meeting at this point and the contest was briefly halted due to low sun.

And the Arlington side secured a heat advantage with a 4-2 to reduce the deficit in heat eight.

Brennan led home Hume with Kemp in third – Pirates Aussie Keleher fell and remounted on his bike to finish last of the quartet.

Visiting captain King led from the gate in a shared race nine before Worrall continued his flawless night’s work to set up an eventful 4-2 for Poole in race 10.

After a fierce battle between him and Kennett saw Worrall take the lead, Brennan’s bike again failed him and Nielsen was able to grab third.

Lawson took the chequered flag ahead of Schlein in race 11 with Edwards managing to pass Keleher on the second bend in lap three. A 4-2 for the Eagles meant Poole led 34-31 with four heats remaining.

A spectacular fall from Cowra-born Cook then caused a stoppage in heat 12. After a coming together with Kemp on the third bend, the Pirates’ man’s bike took off and flew on to the stock car track and he was excluded from the re-run.

That left Worrall to take on both Kemp and Newman, and he duly delivered to keep Poole’s lead intact.

The St Helens star was outgated by Newman but showed his class to slip up the inside of him on the third bend and keep up his winning record on the night.

Two shared heats in races 13 and 14, with wins for Lawson and Kerr ensured Pirates went into heat 15 with a three-point advantage.

But it was Kerr and Lawson who teamed up for a last-heat decider – leading from the gate to seal a 5-1 for the Eagles to pip Pirates by a solitary point.

Eagles 45: Kerr 12+1, Lawson 10, Brennan 6 , Edwards 5, Newman 5+2, Kennett 4+1, Kemp 3+1.

Pirates 44: Worrall 13, King 9, Schlein 8+1, Hume 5+2, Nielsen 5+1, Cook 2, Keleher 2+1.