POOLE Pirates snatched a dramatic 45-45 draw against Berwick Bandits thanks to a final-heat maximum at Shielfield Park.

Out-of-form Pirates looked set for another tough night, 10 points down after six heats.

But Gary Havelock’s charges stormed back with a fine run to get their noses in front at 37-35 with three heats to go.

However, Chris Harris and Ricky Wells impressed to fire Berwick to a four-point advantage, going into heat 15.

But, after mechanical troubles for Harris, the Pirates pair of Richard Lawson and Danny King produced a key 5-1 to ensure the meeting ended level.

King proved to be the top performer for Pirates on the night, with paid 14, beaten just once by an opponent.

The hosts got off to a dream start. Harris and Theo Pijper got away well, the former storming clear to win by a stretch as Berwick recorded a maximum.

The next three heats going into the first track grading would end all square, Pirates placing first and last as the track offered little in the way of passing moves.

Ben Cook, King and Lawson all recorded race victories.

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Berwick extended their lead to 18-12 with an advantage in heat five. Former Pirate Wells took to the front and while Steve Worrall got ahead of Jye Etheridge to take second, Drew Kemp struggled at the back.

The Bandits continued their fine start to the night as Harris and Pijper recorded their second maximum. Harris got away well, with Lawson in hot pursuit, but wily veteran Pijper swooped around the outside to take to the front after bend two. The pair team rode well, to put the home side 10 points up.

Pirates boss Havelock instantly utilised his opportunity for a tactical substitute, with Worrall called in for Zach Cook.

It worked to an extent, Poole recording their first heat advantage of the night, but Leon Flint split the Pirates duo, with King well out in front.

Havelock then made another switch with Ben Cook called in to replace Nathan Ablitt.

And it certainly paid off with the young Aussie charger flying out the gate and, alongside Kemp, coming home for the visitors’ first 5-1 of the night.

Reserve Ben Cook came straight back out in heat nine. But he could not repeat the trick, losing out after being barged by fellow Aussie Jye Etheridge, to finish last, with Lawson taking the win.

Heat 10 quickly became two races in one. Harris and King battled it out from the gate, the former taking the dirt to sweep around the outside on bend two. Zach Cook finally picked up his first points of the northern tour. Having failed to score in defeat at Edinburgh Monarchs the previous evening, Cook battled well to hold off Pijper to take the minor placing.

Referee Willie Dishington called all four riders back after heat 11 was stopped, after Flint went down following first-bend bunching. Kemp got away well in the re-run and when Worrall swooped around the outside, Pirates clinched a big maximum, to level the scores on the night at 33-33.

Poole then took the lead for the first time after a dramatic heat 12. King dived inside Etheridge to go ahead on the second bend, only for the race to be halted when home debutant Nathan Stoneman spun out and crashed into the air fence.

In the re-run, Etheridge and King again exchanged the lead early on, but Pirates’ skipper eventually reeled in the Aussie at the end of lap three as Poole took a 4-2.

But Berwick hit back to level at 39-39 thanks to Harris. The three-time British champion trailed Worrall, but ‘Bomber’ produced a vintage pass in lap three, getting into the dirt and flying around the outside to win.

And the hosts carried that momentum forwards to record a crucial 5-1 in heat 14. Tough nights for Ablitt and Zach Cook continued, with Wells comfortably out in front while young Dane Knudsen battled to take second.

Needing a maximum in the final heat to avoid defeat, there was time for one more late twist. After King had been given a warning for moving at the start, he and Lawson took to the front in the re-run with the visitors on a 5-1.

Harris, who was on a paid max going into the race, was hot in pursuit and nipped ahead of King in lap three, only for him to suffer mechanical trouble at the worst possible time, denying Berwick victory and handing Poole two league points for the 45-45 draw.

Pirates, now with just one win in six, remain third in the SGB Championship table, four points behind Glasgow Tigers, who they meet at Wimborne Road on Wednesday.

Berwick 45: Chris Harris 11+1, Theo Pijper 6+1, Jye Etheridge 5+2, Ricky Wells 11, Leon Flint 6, Jonas Knudsen 4+1, Nathan Stoneman 2+2.

Pirates 45: Steve Worrall 9, Drew Kemp 4+2, Danny King 13+1, Zach Cook 2+1, Richard Lawson 10, Ben Cook 7, Nathan Ablitt 0.