IT WAS a meeting more than 600 days in the making.

As Pirates fans flocked into Wimborne Road for the first time since September 2019, promoter Danny Ford admitted the pressure was then on the riders to deliver success on track.

And boy did they produce for him with an emphatic 52-38 home victory over Berwick Bandits in the SGB Championship.

Star guest Hans Andersen (12+2) and Steve Worrall (13+1) led from the front for the home side, with Ben Cook showing his raw talent in an impressive 13-point haul at reserve.

The success ensured Pirates were off and running with a first league win of the campaign.

Heat one started in a messy fashion, with former Pirate Nikolaj Busk-Jakobsen coming under pressure from Zane Keleher and ending up hitting the deck on bend two. All four riders were back for the re-run.

It was then a sublime opening return for guest Andersen, who led from tapes to flag to take the opening heat. The hosts had been on a 5-1 before Busk-Jakobsen managed to pass Keleher into second spot.

Berwick, who were running rider replacement for Coty Garcia on the night, saw rising star Leon Flint take the reserves’ heat with a 4-2 of their own. Cook showed his ability for Poole to slip up the inside of Kyle Bickley and deny the Bandits a 5-1.

Jye Etheridge then fended off the challenge of Steve Worrall to take the chequered flag for the visitors in a shared heat three – the scores remaining level.

Poole skipper Danny King showed his class to start his night with a race win in heat four. While youngster Flint made the start, King swooped round the outside of him to wow the home crowd and keep the contest all-square.

The first home 5-1 of 2021 for Pirates then came in heat five.

Stefan Nielsen crossed the line first after displaying superb team riding alongside Worrall – the pair finishing comfortably ahead of Busk-Jakobsen and Bickley.

Back came the Bandits however, with skipper Aaron Summers charging home in front of Danish star Andersen in heat six. Keleher was left trailing at the back as Poole’s lead was cut to two points.

A first win on Poole’s home shale for Cook then put Pirates in command. The Cowra-born charger teamed up with captain King to seal an important 5-1 ahead of Dany Gappmaier and Etheridge.

Cook was then brought in to replace Danyon Hume for the hosts alongside Keleher in heat eight but the move proved to be of no avail for Pirates.

Aussie Cook pressured the Bandits’ pair of Flint and Bickley but failed to find a way through the duo in front, Keleher was left tailed off at the back. Poole still led 25-23.

The advantage was then increased as Worrall and Nielsen teamed up again for another 5-1 in heat nine. Worrall took the bike out wide into the dirt to eventually blitz his way to the front, Nielsen always looked comfortable ahead of Bickley and Summers.

Team boss Neil Middleditch then opted to replace Keleher with Cook in heat 10 and it proved a masterstroke. The Poole reserve led from the gate and, with Anderson manoeuvring his way past Etheridge into second off the final bend, Poole suddenly found themselves 35-25 ahead.

Cook again surged to the front to carry on his sublime night’s work and take the race win in heat 11. Poole also secured a 4-2 heat advantage with King pipping Busk-Jakobsen into third on the line.

Worrall’s second win of the night then came in a shared heat 12. Hume was all over Flint in the race for third but despite a spirited effort, failed to reel in his opposite number.

Legendary Dane Andersen then ensured the spoils were sealed for Pirates by heat 13. He was ahead and clear of the challenge of Busk-Jakobsen, King’s third ensured Pirates led by 14 with just two heats remaining.

Pirates could have stretched their lead further when Nielsen and Cook were out in front in the penultimate race, only for the former to come down on bend two and be excluded.

That allowed Bandits pair Bickley and Flint to take advantage with a 5-1 in the re-run and close to 10 points the gap.

But Pirates’ final-heat pair of Worrall and Andersen sent the home crowd home happy, as they made light work of Flint and Busk-Jakobsen to seal a final 5-1. Worrall coming home in front.

Pirates: Andersen 12+2, Keleher 1, Worrall 13+1, Nielsen 6+2, King 7+1, Cook 13, Hume 0.