Elite League: Poole Pirates 48, King’s Lynn Stars 45
King's Lynn failed to take advantage of a heavy tumble for former Stars favourite Darcy Ward on Wednesday as likely title rivals Poole pipped them 48-45 in a classic at Wimborne Road.
When Ward was rag-dolled into the back-straight safety fence in heat 10, it seemed the Stars had a golden opportunity to pick up their third straight victory and steal an early march in the Elite League title race.
But Pirates' supporting cast stepped up to the mark in style and ensured the Stars left Dorset with just a hard-fought point to show for their efforts.
King's Lynn edged ahead in race two. Stellar reserve Sebastian Alden led the change, while Kozza Smith held off Rohan Tungate for third to secure a 4-2 and a 7-5 lead.
A shared race followed, before Maciej Janowski and Rohan Tungate turned the tide for Poole as the Aussie held off his King's Lynn compatriot Rory Schlein for a huge 5-1.
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Poole maximums in races six and seven put the Stars 10 points behind and Simon Stead was handed the chance to race for double points in race eight by team manager Rob Lyon.
He took full advantage, following Alden all the way to the final turn, before swooping past the Swede on the run to the line for an 8-1 over Pirates' Dawid Stachyra and Rohan Tungate.
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This put King's Lynn just 27-24 behind and they moved within a point of Poole after Alden left world champion Chris Holder for dead in race nine, while Schlein edged Howarth for third on the final corner.
Ward withdrew with an injury to his left wrist in heat 10, giving Mads Korneliussen and Nicolai Klindt a golden opportunity to pull some points back. But they failed to capitalise as Stachyra, who was last in his opening two heats, stormed to a massive victory in his partner's absence.
Stars got themselves firmly back in the hunt for victory when Iversen and Schlein made the most of an engine failure on the start line for ex-Stars rider Maciej Janowski in heat 13 to bag a 5-1.
But Magic boarded his second bike and delivered the perfect riposte in race 14 by holding off Klindt brilliantly and tailing Howarth to a Poole maximum, putting them 45-42 up ahead of the nominated race.
Stars needed a 5-1 to snatch a massive win, but Holder rocketed from the tapes to head Schlein and Iversen and secure victory in what could well prove an early Elite League play-off final dress rehearsal.
Poole 48: 1 Darcy Ward 5+1 (3), 2 Dawid Stachyra 7 (5), 3 Chris Holder 13 (5), 4 Rider replacement – Robert Miskowiak, 5 Maciej Janowski 9+2 (6), 6 Kyle Howarth 11+2 (7), 7 Rohan Tungate 3+1 (4).
King's Lynn 45: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen 11+2 (5), 2 Simon Stead 7+1 (4), 3 Mads Korneliussen 6+1 (4), 4 Nicolai Klindt 4+1 (4), 5 Rory Schlein 8 (5), 6 Sebastian Alden 8+1 (5), 7 Kozza Smith 1 (3).