PROMOTER Danny Ford insists he is unsure how important a top-two finish would be for Poole Pirates this season.

With the end of the regular league campaign now fast coming into view, all 10 teams are battling it out for the six end-of-season play-off spots in the SGB Championship.

Following Newcastle Diamonds' sudden withdrawal from the league last month, all of their nine previous results have now been expunged from the records.

That saw Pirates slip a place down the standings, with the three points they picked up from their 58-32 win over the Diamonds in May no longer counting towards the tally.

While the top six head into the play-offs, there is the added incentive of the top two clubs progressing straight through to the semi-finals, while clubs placing third to sixth face-off against each other.

Pirates finished top of the pile last term, moving them straight into the final four, and also giving them the advantage of being allowed to select their semi-final opponents.

Poole beat Leicester Lions over two legs, before defeating Glasgow Tigers, to win the SGB Championship trophy.

At present, Pirates sit third in the table with 28 points from their 13 meetings, following last week's 49-41 win over Berwick Bandits. Glasgow are six points ahead having ridden one extra meeting, while leaders Leicester are on 40 points, but have just two meetings remaining.

Poole round off their away schedule with trips to Edinburgh tomorrow, before heading to Berwick the following evening (both 7.30pm). They then face three meetings at Wimborne Road before hoping to enter the play-offs. They currently sit eight points clear of seventh-placed Redcar Bears.

Asked if finishing in the top two was now Pirates' main aim after falling off the pace of leaders Leicester, Ford told the Daily Echo: "It’s a funny one. I don’t know how much going straight through to the semis really benefits you, because if you go to the quarter-finals, you’re getting a little bit more regular racing.

"Obviously it’s only been in place from last season, this kind of schedule.

"So we’re not entirely sure what the most beneficial route is to the finals.

"I think ultimately if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best and if we don’t finish within the top two, we’ll scrap our way through the quarter-finals and that might benefit us in the long run with a few more fixtures."

Gary Havelock will step in to team manage the two upcoming northern meetings, starting at Armadale, with Neil Middleditch watching on from home.

Following the updated July averages, Steve Worrall takes the number one berth from Danny King, while Ben Cook replaces Drew Kemp at reserve.

Pirates: Steve Worrall, Drew Kemp, Danny King, Zach Cook, Richard Lawson, Ben Cook, Nathan Ablitt.

Edinburgh: Sam Masters, Lasse Fredriksen, Kye Thomson, Paco Castagna, Josh Pickering, Jacob Hook, James Sarjeant.