Photo gallery: Elite League play-off semi-final first leg: King’s Lynn Stars 44, Poole Pirates 45

Robert Lambert. Picture: Ian Burt

Robert Lambert. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Lynn came out on the wrong side of a last-heat decider as they lost their home semi-final play-off clash tonight against Poole.

The Stars needed a race win in the 15th to take an advantage down to Dorset for the final leg but they failed to achieve it despite Rory Schlein crossing the line first.

His team-mate Kenneth Bjerre was unable to get past Maciej Janowski and Vaclav Milik as the Pirates and reigning champions saw out the meeting to head home with a one-point lead.

It had been close all night on very wet Norfolk Arena track with 10 of the races being shared between the two sides. Yet three triumphs were enough for the south coast outfit to succeed at Saddlebow Road.

While the Pirates haven't entirely sunk Lynn's hopes of Elite League glory, the outstanding displays of Janowski and Kyle Newman will give them hope that they can hold onto their lead in the second leg at Wimborne Road on Monday. But if Rob Lyon's men show the same heart they did during a difficult clash they at least stand a chance of taking their fight to the wire next week.

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All of the excitement and build-up to the massive night of action had looked set to be washed out thanks to a deluge of rain in the afternoon. But some tireless work from Buster Chapman and his track staff – no doubt verbally supported by the powers that be in the world of television broadcasting – managed to make the oval raceable.

It still looked very slick despite their best efforts so it was anyone's guess as to how the action would unfold when it finally did. But, thankfully, after a 45-minute delay, there was at least something for the crowd to feast their eyes on.

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What they witnessed was defintely racing – but there wasn't much to get excited about. On a circuit best known for some of the most thrilling two-wheel passing on the planet, there was not a sniff of overtaking early on. Yet that's what happens when riders are forced to do battle in conditions that are far from ideal.

The first three heats were shared and they all followed the same pattern. Tapes up, first rider to turn one led the way, and the rest followed. The men with opponents in front of them could barely see to pass as so much wet dirt was filling in their goggles and bikes.

So Bjerre, Kyle Newman and Schlein – applauded as they should be for winning – weren't really under any pressure as it remained all square with three 3-3s. However, the action started to improve and was again credit to Chapman and his crew's track craft. Heat seven was a thriller with Robert and Simon Lambert team riding outstandingly to hold off Shamek Pawlicki and secure a 5-1. Nicklas Porsing deserved more than a last in the eighth as he rode his heart out but ran out of room on the top turn as he tried to outpace Craig Cook.

Yet while the quality of the sliding may have increased, the nature of the results didn't for the home faithful as the evening wore on. The Stars failed to get a heat advantage in any of the last seven races and now know they are really up against it to reach the 2014 grand final.

In the night's other last-four fixture, Coventry Bees won 49-41 at home to Swindon Robins.

Lynn: K Bjerre 9, R Lambert 4+1, S Nicholls 6+1, N Porsing 5, R Schlein 10+3, L Kerr 5, S Lambert 5+2

Poole: D King 5, C Cook 8+2, V Milik 7+2, S Pawlicki 4, M Janowski 12+1, B Compton 0, K Newman 9+2

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