Elite Shield: Poole Pirates 53 King’s Lynn Stars 39
- Credit: Ian Burt
King's Lynn were left seeing stars in Poole again after going down 53-39 in their Elite Shield first leg at Wimborne Road on Wednesday night.
Rob Lyon's men saw their Elite League title hopes ended in Dorset last season, and they will need an extra special effort in the return leg at the Adrian Flux Arena tomorrow night to deny Pirates another trophy.
King's Lynn held their own in the early stages. They went 7-5 ahead when reserves Lewis Kerr and Ashley Morris were awarded a 5-1 after Pirates sensation Kyle Newman shed a chain and crashed hard on lap three, turn four.
The Poole-born star suffered a heavy bang to the head and withdrew from the meeting. Newman inspired Pirates' title charge in 2014, so Stars will have fancied their chances of increasing their advantage in his absence.
But few would have legislated for an unexpectedly inspired debut from Newman's reserve partner Starke, who racked up 10 paid 13 points from six races to more than cover.
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Kerr picked up a sublime win over Poole new boy Kacper Gomolski in race four, but Stars relinquished their advantage in heat five.
Poole's Dakota North made a superb start to triumph, while Starke held firm against a huge challenge from Stars' Robert Lambert to secure a Pirates 5-1.
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Disaster struck for King's Lynn in race seven when Rory Schlein broke down while comfortably second behind partner Porsing. A 5-1 turned into a 3-3 and Poole never looked back.
Gomolski rushed clear in heat eight, while Starke rounded Morris on lap two, turn four to earn Pirates a 5-1.
Starke's hot streak continued as he picked up speed to snatch third place from Kerr on the line in heat nine, while Porsing lost out to North at the front as Pirates claimed a 4-2.
Lambert ended a testing night with a sensational second place ahead of Grand Prix star Maciej Janowski in heat 10, but he could do little about the fast-gating Davey Watt as a 4-2 put Poole 35-25 clear.
Schlein took a tactical ride in heat 11, but managed only second as Chris Holder and North filled first and third respectively to split the heat 4-4.
The next three races were shared 3-3, but Stars' odds of overturning the aggregate deficit tonight lengthened after North and Janowski expertly moved Stars' No.1 Niels-Kristian Iversen and Schlein aside on bend one to claim a big 5-1 in heat 15.
With a 14-point cushion and Pirates partial to King's Lynn's fast and furious Adrian Flux Arena track, Stars' 2014 scourges will take some stopping in tomorrow's deciding leg.
POOLE 53: Chris Holder 7+1 (4), Dakota North 11 (5), Davey Watt 7 (4), Kacper Gomolski 7+2 (4), Maciej Janowski 11+1 (5), Paul Starke 10+3 (6), Kyle Newman 0 (1).
KING'S LYNN 39: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen 7+1 (5), Robert Lambert 3 (4), Rory Schlein 9 (5), Nicklas Porsing 5 (4), Kenneth Bjerre 3+1 (4), Ashley Morris 4+2 (4), Lewis Kerr 8 (4).