PIRATES put themselves in command of their Championship Knockout Cup tie with Plymouth after a 49-41 win at the Plymouth Coliseum.

Steve Worrall top-scored for the away side having scored 12 points from five rides, while there were also impressive performances from Stefan Nielsen (8+2) and the returning Rory Schlein (9).

Poole are set to stage the second leg of the first-round tie at Wimborne Road on Wednesday, July 21.

The visitors were able to call on number one Schlein for the trip to Devon – the Aussie ace having recovered from a nasty fall in heat one at Glasgow earlier this month.

Plymouth, who had used Pirates skipper Danny King as a guest in recent weeks, brought in Richard Lawson to spearhead their line-up in place of the injured Jason Crump.

Luke Ruddick was making his first appearance for the hosts, having signed as a rising star at number seven.

But it was Schlein who helped Pirates get off to a strong start in the opening heat, taking the chequered flag ahead of Lawson, with Zane Keleher third to earn the visitors an early heat advantage.

Alfie Bowtell got the better of Poole’s reserve duo Ben Cook and Danyon Hume in a shared heat two, before Pirates turned on the style in race three.

The duo of Worrall and Nielsen combined for a 5-1 over Zach Cook, brother of Ben, and Dillon Ruml to put Poole in command with an early six-point lead.

King beat former Pirates star Bjarne Pedersen in a level heat four and Schlein made it two wins from two in heat five for Poole – but with Keleher and Hume both trailing at the back in each heat, the points were halved.

Lawson got his first win of the meeting in race six as he saw off the challenge of Ben Cook and captain King. Poole still held a 21-15 advantage.

Plymouth reserve Bowtell was then judged to have caused a stoppage in heat seven when he clashed with Nielsen on turn three – the Plymouth man excluded from the re-run.

That left Pedersen to split race winner Worrall and Nielsen to grab second, with Poole limited to a 4-2.

Then came a big moment for Keleher as he sealed his first heat win in Pirates colours in race eight – teaming up with Hume to land a 5-1 and extend to 12 points Poole’s lead.

King continued to impress at the Coliseum having taken the spoils in heat nine ahead of Ruml, Zach Cook led home sibling Ben, who was left at the back.

Lawson’s fall in heat 10 meant he was disqualified from the re-run, with Worrall carrying on his unbeaten record, again teaming up with Nielsen for a 5-1 to get the better of struggling Steven Goret.

Poole’s number one Schlein was beaten for the first time on the night as Pedersen got the better of him in race 11. Bowtell beat Keleher into third as Poole’s lead was cut to 14.

Worrall saw his chances of a maximum scuppered in heat 12 as he was overcome by Zach Cook, with Ben Cook in third ahead of Bowtell.

The Gladiators did rally late on however with Lawson and Pedersen teaming up for a 5-1 of their own ahead of Schlein and King in race 13.

Victory on the night was secured in the penultimate heat with Nielsen capping his fine night’s work with a victory ahead of Ruml. Hume picked up a point in third as Poole surged into a 48-36 advantage.

Plymouth cut the deficit to eight in the end when Pedersen and Lawson sealed a 5-1 over Worrall and Schlein.

Pirates 49: Worrall 12, Schlein 9, Nielsen 8+2, King 7+1, Cook 5+1, Hume 4+2, Keleher 4.

Plymouth 41: Pedersen 12+1, Lawson 10+1, Cook 7+1, Bowtell 5 , Ruml 5+1, Ruddick 1+1, Goret 1.