By Henry Chard
POOLE 51: Josh Grajczonek © 12+1, Nico Covatti 8+1, Jack Holder 8+1, Nicolai Klindt 7, Tomas H Jonasson 6+1, Ricky Wells 5+2, Brady Kurtz 5. Team Manager: Neil Middleditch
IPSWICH 39: Richard Lawson 9+1, Chris Harris 8+1, Danny King © 7+1, Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, Jake Allen 5, James Sarjeant 2+1, Cameron Heeps 1+1. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
REFEREE: C. Ackroyd
VENUE: Poole Stadium
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches fell to a 51-39 defeat at Poole on Monday evening in the Premiership as they completed their regular league campaign.
Having already confirmed their place in the play-offs, the Witches had nothing to lose in this one whilst the Pirates were keen to take the victory to keep the race for top spot in their own hands with one meeting to race. The two sides traded 5-1’s throughout the evening as Ipswich kept things tight and there was just four points to separate the two teams going into heat 13. However, Poole finished strongly as the Witches faded away to confirm their victory. Richard Lawson top scored with 9+1 for the Suffolk side.
The evening got off to a false start as Brady Kurtz received a warning for jumping the start. Nico Covatti won the re-run holding off Niels-Kristian Iversen and Cameron Heeps took third for a 3-3. The hosts went ahead in heat two as Tomas H Jonasson took the chequered flag and Ricky Wells came through into second for a 5-1. Poole doubled their lead in heat three as Nicolai Klindt won and he was followed home by Josh Grajczonek who fended off some early pressure from Lawson and Chris Harris to make it 13-5 after three races.
The Witches hit back in heat four as Jake Allen won comfortably and Danny King steamed up the inside of Jack Holder at the end of the first lap to join his partner for a 5-1. Heeps was a faller on the first turn of heat five and it seemed for all the world that all four would be called back for the re-run after a classic case of first bend bunching but the referee decided to exclude the Australian to the bemusement of many. Klindt came under huge pressure from Iversen in the re-run but he held on and won the heat as the Pirates picked up a 4-2. King won heat six with ease as the points were shared, leaving the Pirates 21-15 up.
Lawson and Harris stormed to a 5-1 in heat seven to reduce Poole’s lead to just two points. However, the home team responded immediately as Covatti won and Wells joined him at the front for a maximum. King was the leader in heat nine after a fantastic first bend but Grajczonek produced a stunning ride to fly past the Ipswich skipper late on in the race and win as the Pirates recorded a 4-2 to put them 31-23 in front.
The red lights came on in heat 10 as Covatti moved at the start and received a warning as did Lawson despite the Poole rider being the first to move on the inside. Harris and Lawson repeated their heat seven performance with another 5-1 in the re-run to close the gap on the hosts. Once again though, the Pirates hit back with a maximum of their own in heat 11 as Holder and Jonasson shut out Iversen to restore their eight-point lead. Klindt led heat 12 but he lost his chain and Harris did remarkably well to avoid the falling Poole rider as the Witches were awarded a 5-1 with Harris and James Sarjeant behind the Dane. That meant Poole held a 38-34 lead with three to race.
Brady Kurtz and Holder started heat 13 on a 5-1 but Iversen produced a fine cut-back to pass Holder coming out of the fourth turn of the opening lap to limit the Pirates to a 4-2. Grajczonek was too quick for everyone as he won heat 14 ahead of Lawson and Jonasson took third for another heat advantage to the home side that confirmed their victory. Iversen was the leader in heat 15 but he lifted on the home straight and couldn’t stay on the bike going into the first turn as his back wheel gave way and he slid off into the air fence. Grajczonek and Holder recorded a 5-1 in the re-run to end the evening on a high for the hosts.
RIDER OF THE NIGHT…
After finishing last in his opening ride, Harris went through his remaining three programmed rides without being defeated by an opposition rider and he looks to be getting back to his best ahead of the play-offs.
It was a tight encounter throughout as the Witches kept the Pirates on their toes and there was no real defining moment in truth. There were just four points in it going into heat 13 with Iversen and King up against Kurtz and Holder. The Witches duo had been going well on the night, but the Pirates managed to record a 4-2 that put them on the brink of victory which was confirmed in the following heat.
WHAT IT MEANS…
Poole add another three points to their tally, and they stay second, meaning they need to win at King’s Lynn in their final fixture to secure top spot and choice of opponents in the play-offs. Ipswich pick up nothing and finish the league campaign fourth as they await news of their play-off opponents.
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches will be in Premiership play-off action at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday 26th September at 7.30pm. The opposition will be confirmed soon.
AROUND THE TRACKS…
Swindon continued their fine form with a big 51-39 win at King’s Lynn to stay top of the Premiership table.