POOLE Pirates overcame a stern test from rock-bottom Berwick Bandits, to get back to winning ways with a 49-41 victory at Wimborne Road.

Pirates came into the night on the back of three meetings without a win for the first time since dropping down into the Championship.

It took until heat seven for the hosts to edge in front of Berwick, who had Chris Harris in flying form, and while the contest was still in the balance for the majority of the night, Poole got the job done with a heat to spare. The win lifts them back up to second in the Championship table.

Drew Kemp top scored for the hosts on the night with 10 paid 11, on his final meeting as reserve before moving up into the main body of the team. But Poole’s riders were all dwarfed by Harris’s staggering 17 paid 18 from six rides, unbeaten by an opponent all night.

After a rejig to their line-up, Berwick were able to field their full septet for the first time since April.

Reserve duo Nathan Stoneman and Jonas Knudsen made their debuts for the club, the latter his first competitive appearance in England. Former Pirates Harris and Ricky Wells also formed part of their one-to-seven.

Poole, too, were at full strength.

Harris got off to a trademark blistering start, recording one of the fastest winning times of the season at Wimborne Road (58.88) in a shared opening heat, with Danny King in second.

The visitors then edged in front as Knudsen made a dream debut in British racing. The race was stopped with Kemp in front after Nathan Ablitt fell at the back. On the re-run, young Dane Knudsen, a former 250cc world youth champion, shot to the front and could not be caught.


Pirates v Berwick (Picture: Richard Crease)

Pirates v Berwick (Picture: Richard Crease)


Pirates hit back in another re-run heat three. With Wells disqualified after falling, Poole fired in a resounding maximum, courtesy of Steve Worrall and Ben Cook.

But the meeting was all level at 12-12 going into the first track grading pause. The race split into two with Leon Flint holding off Richard Lawson, while Stoneman finished ahead of Ablitt.

Harris then continued his perfect start to the night. He and Worrall both got away well, before ‘Bomber’ pulled clear in a shared heat five, with Theo Pijper again trailing at the back.

Poole looked set to get their noses in front in heat six, only for King to squander his lead as Leon Flint overtook him to take to the front, as the spoils were again shared.

But the hosts did get in front in style in heat seven. Pirates’ duo Kemp and Lawson got ahead of Jye Etheridge by the second bend and eased to a maximum.

A second 5-1 instantly followed. Kemp replaced Ablitt in a reserve change and clinched back-to-back victories, with Zach Cook getting up the inside of veteran Dutchman Pijper to slot into second, putting Poole 28-20 ahead.

Berwick boss Gary Flint responded by opting for a tactical substitute, bringing Harris in for Knudsen. And the switch paid off as ‘Bomber’ cruised to a third win of the night, recording a max alongside boss Gary’s son Leon, who held off Ben Cook.


Pirates v Berwick (Picture: Richard Crease)

Pirates v Berwick (Picture: Richard Crease)


A fourth maximum instantly followed, this time falling the way of the hosts. King and Zach Cook quickly moved to the front and were never being caught.

But the gap was instantly reduced to 35-31 after an inspired switch in heat 11. The inexperience of Knudsen was preferred to 42-year-old Pijper and he clinched a second victory of the night. Harris slotted into second behind him, with Lawson and Kemp unable to bridge the gap.

Worrall did his job in heat 12, easing to a tapes-to-flag victory, but Ablitt could not reel in Knudsen as the shared scores set up a tantalising heat 13.

Bandits pair Harris and Flint had not been beaten by an opponent all night, but the visitors were hampered when teenager Flint fell going around the first bend in lap one. Harris continued his strong night’s work by ensuring a 3-3 with another race victory.

Gary Flint opted to bring Knudsen back into action in heat 14, but the young Dane spun and crashed out with Pirates on a 5-1. Referee Simon Humphrey-Kennett called for a re-run, rather than awarding the victory. But it mattered little as Ben Cook and Kemp comfortably saw off American Wells to ensure Pirates returned to winning ways.

Harris ensured he would end the night with a paid max, winning a shared heat 15, with Flint falling before remounting at the back, denying Berwick the chance to pick up a losing bonus point.

Pirates sit 12 points behind leaders Leicester, with three meetings in hand.

Pirates 49: Danny King 8+1, Zach Cook 6+4, Steve Worrall 9+1, Ben Cook 7+2, Richard Lawson 9+1, Drew Kemp 10+1, Nathan Ablitt 0.

Berwick 41: Chris Harris 17+1, Theo Pijper 1, Jye Etheridge 5, Ricky Wells 1, Leon Flint 8+1, Jonas Knudsen 7+1, Nathan Stoneman 2.