Stars’ dream is shattered by Pirates
Poole Pirates 63, King's Lynn Stars 27 (Poole win 108-75 on aggregate): King's Lynn Stars saw their Elite League play-off final dreams come crashing down as Poole Pirates powered to a 63-27 semi-final, second leg triumph at Wimborne Road last night.
Despite their 48-45 triumph in the first leg on September 19, Stars crashed to a 108-75 aggregate defeat after being put to the sword by a Pirates side desperate to reach their third play-off final in four years.
Their three-point aggregate lead was instantly wiped out in heat one when Chris Holder and Dennis Andersson tore out of the blocks to bag a convincing 5-1 over Kenneth and Lasse Bjerre.
And it was virtually one-way traffic from this point onwards as Pirates racked up a 45-21 lead after 11 races and sealed their place in the final with four heats to spare.
Having reached the play-offs in their first season back in the Elite League, Stars supporters still had reason to leave Wimborne Road with their heads held high. But they will be disappointed with the efforts of their big hitters, who simply wilted in the face of a relentless assault from Pirates' Grand Prix star Chris Holder and 2009 King's Lynn treble winner Darcy Ward.
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Stars owners Buster and Jonathan Chapman must have regretted selling the double World Under-21 champion to Poole as he raced to a stupendous 17 paid 18-point maximum.
Holder piled up 14 paid 15 and with King's Lynn's Danish heavyweights Kenneth Bjerre and Niels-Kristian Iversen accumulating just seven between them, this was one major difference between the sides.
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Another was the fact Stars managed just one heat advantage in 15 heats. That came when Lasse Bjerre led Sam Masters to a 4-2 over Andersson and Morten Risager in race eight.
King's Lynn had just two heat winners. Masters took the chequered flag in the race two, and the Aussie youngster was undoubtedly the visitors' rider of the night.
He threatened a major upset in heat four when he got the better of Ward coming out of turn two, but the Pirate just found the speed to blast up the inside going into turn three on lap two.
Masters refused to give up and nearly repaid the compliment a lap later, but Ward held on.
When an Iversen tactical ride garnered no points in heat six, Masters was handed the black and white helmet for race nine.
He made a ruthless dive up the inside of Pirates' Thomas H Jonasson coming out of turn three in a bid to hit the front, but the Swede bravely went wheel-to-wheel with his rival and ducked back up the inside.
Masters lost his momentum and was relegated to the back. He also failed to score in race 12, but his battling spirit was an inspiration to his beleaguered colleagues.
• Poole: Chris Holder 14+1, Dennis Andersson 9+3, Davey Watt R/R, Thomas H Jonasson 12+1, Darcy Ward 17+1, Kevin Wolbert 9+1, Morten Risager 2+1.
• King's Lynn: Kenneth Bjerre 3, Lasse Bjerre 4, Oliver Allen 5, Mads Korneliussen 5, Niels-Kristian Iversen 4+1, Sam Masters 6, Filip Sitera 0.