REPORT: Poole Pirates v Berwick Bandits


Poole fans have been accustomed to seeing Chris 'Bomber' Harris pick up points around Wimborne Road with his full-throttle battling from the back so when the Cornishman pulled clear at the pit turn to complete heat one on a pace that shied the fastest time of the season by a mere one-hundredth of a second, it was something of a novelty. 

But Harris had more in his locker and across the course of the meeting made six excellent gates, leaving Pirates manager Neil Middleditch to quip "I don't think Bomber has ever made six good starts in all his career but he found them tonight and was uncatchable."

Danny King and Zach Cook quickly learned that as they settled for a share of the spoils, leaving the Pirates still looking for their first opening heat advantage at Wimborne Road since Birmingham visited on April 27th! Any hope that Poole would break the deadlock were dashed when Nathan Ablitt went down at the first turn and became trapped under the air fence causing the race to be stopped, resulting in his disqualification from the re-start, in which Drew Kemp found himself unable to make a pass on debutant Dane Jonas Knudsen and so it was to be the Bandits that inched ahead. 

A similar fate beset Ricky Wells in heat three, again falling at the first turn, with Poole holding the leading places, but on came the red lights, followed by the yellow exclusion light. Steve Worrall and Ben Cook acted swiftly to put the squeeze on lone Bandit, Jye Etheridge in the rerun, thus, from the Pirates being on the back foot they took a big step into the meeting lead. The much improved Leon  Flint was sharp away in heat four, leaving Richard Lawson having to work hard to get into second and set up a chase. But, unlike his previous Wimborne Road ride (heat fifteen versus Plymouth) there was to be no fairy-tale ending this time as Flint held out for the victory and Stoneman won the battle of the Nathans.

For the second time, Harris hit the front immediately and the only heroics on display was Ben Cook's move on Theo Pijper to promote himself from last through to second, only to then drop back behind Worrall as scores remained level. King and Zach Cook promptly dealt with first time out winner Knudsen, but carrying the same mantle, Flint led from the outset of heat six and was unstoppable.

Kemp and Lawson were able to inflict a second 5-1 over the Bandits middle pairing, of Etheridge and Wells,  although Lawson had to work the machine to get into second around the pit turn. It was Zach Cook doing all the hard work over the first lap of heat eight, wrestling his way by Pijper to join Kemp, who was replacing Ablitt on a 5-1, and Poole were savouring and eight point lead.

Sufficiently large enough to enable the Bandits to deploy the tactical ride option and it was no surpise that is was Harris who was called upon and he duly obliged, courtesy of another sharp start. Flint was being pushed throughout by Ben Cook, but again held on to his position, the 1-5 result halving the deficit for the visitors.

 A well overdue race win for skipper King, backed up convincingly by Zach Cook, restored the Pirates eight point advantage but then the Bandits produced an inspired switch of riders with Knudsen replacing Pijper. The Dane made the running, albeit  Kemp was impeded by a bizarre incident at the start, but with Harris a clear second the five-ones continued now, 3-2 in favour of Poole across the last five races. Steve Worrall explored the wide dirt line in heat twelve and found the speed to pull well clear of the field, whilst behind Ablitt was up with the two Bandits but couldn't make his presence fully felt.

Heading into heat thirteen and the Pirates nursing only a four point lead, King and Lawson were facing the two unbeaten Bandits - Harris and Flint. But at the first turn Flint ran out of room and consistent with his earlier decisions the referee disqualified Flint, a fair call  as no rider was near enough to him to cause the fall. But could the two Pirates beat the one-armed Bandits? Could anyone live with the speed of the Bomber? Well, Lawson looked to have a couple of chances round the pit turn but Harris was too crafty and the four point lead remained. Heat fourteen provided a talking point as Kemp and Cook (Ben) were out ahead with Knudsen pressing hard. On lap three Knudsen spun it round 360 degrees and although he cleared the track his machine was still stranded causing the race heat to be stopped. The referee refused to award the result despite Wells not showing any signs of being in the mix, and he called for a three-man rerun. The Pirates weren't to be troubled thus assuring that they would be back on the winning trail, and although Harris went on to complete an impressive six-ride paid maximum - Lawson though throwing himself at him in a bid to deny him - the Bandits were sent home pointless, Flint dropping it again at the first turn but this time remounting more in the forlorn hope that one of the Pirates might have the luck against them to prevent them from finishing. 

D.King 2,2,3,1'=8+1 (4)
Z.Cook 1',1',2',2'=6+4 (4)
S.Worrall 3,2,0,3,1'=9+1 (5)
B.Cook 2',1',1,3=7+2 (4)
R.Lawson 2,2',1,2,2=9+1 (5)
D.Kemp 2,3,3,0,2'=10+1 (5)
N.Ablitt FD,0,RS,0=0 (3)
C.Harris 3,3,3,2',3,3=17+1 (6)
T.Pijper 0,0,1,RS=1 (3)
J.Etheridge 1,1,1,2=5 (4)
R.Wells FD,0,0,1=1 (4)
L.Flint 3,3,2',FD,0=8+1 (5)
J.Knudsen 3,0,TS,3,1',FD=7+1 (5)
N.Stoneman 1,1,0,RS=2 (3)
Ht 1:  C.Harris, D.King, Z.Cook, T.Pijper 3-3 3-3 [58.8]
Ht 2:  J.Knudsen, D.Kemp, N.Stoneman, N.Ablitt [fell exc] 2-4 5-7 [60.19]
Ht 3:  S.Worrall, B.Cook, J.Etheridge, R.Wells [fell exc] 5-1 10-8 [60.28]
Ht 4:  L.Flint, R.Lawson, N.Stoneman, N.Ablitt 2-4 12-12 [59.97]
Ht 5:  C.Harris, S.Worrall, B.Cook, T.Pijper 3-3 15-15 [59.25]
Ht 6:  L.Flint, D.King, Z.Cook, J.Knudsen 3-3 18-18 [60.25]
Ht 7:  D.Kemp, R.Lawson, J.Etheridge, R,Wells 5-1 23-19 [6.06]
Ht 8:  D.Kemp, Z.Cook, T.Pijper, N.Stoneman 5-1 28-20 [61.34]
Ht 9:  C.Harris, L.Flint, B.Cook, S.Worrall, J.Knudsen [Tac Subbed] 1-5 29-25 [60.28]
Ht 10:  D.King, Z.Cook, J.Etheridge, R.Wells 5-1 34-26 [60.78]
Ht 11:  J.Knudsen, C.Harris, R.Lawson, D.Kemp 1-5 35-31 [61]
Ht 12:  S.Worrall, J.Etheridge, J.Knudsen, N.Ablitt 3-3 38-34 [60.93]
Ht 13:  C.Harris, R.Lawson, D.King, L.Flint [fell exc] 3-3 41-37 [60.6]
Ht 14:  B.Cook, D.Kemp, R.Wells, J.Knudsen [fell exc] 5-1 46-38 [61.84]
Ht 15:  C.Harris, R.Lawson, S.Worrall, L.Flint 3-3 49-41 [60.81]
REFEREE:  Simon Humphrey-Kennett 
POOLE won toss and deferred choice to heat 15; BERWICK chose gates 2&4 |POOLE choose gates 1&3 in heat 15  
League Points: POOLE 3 BERWICK 0

Photos courtesy of Anthony Burchell

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