REPORT: Play Off Fixture 1 - Poole Pirates v Scunthorpe Scorpions


Just as he had done in the regular league contest between the Pirates and Scunthorpe, the Scorpions number one, Ryan Douglas, showed his liking for the Wimborne Road raceway as he won the battle to the first turn to give the visitors a positive start to this play-off group fixture, but Anders Rowe won an even more crucial battle on the run to the flag as he passed Simon Lambert to share the spoils in that opener. 

A Scunthorpe rider was again making all the running in heat two, Drew Kemp the victor and there was no sharing of points this time around as Nathan Ablitt was able to pass Joe Thompson, the man now wearing Ablitt's number seven jacket of 2022. Confusion with the lap flags had the riders setting off on a fifth lap although the error had been noted in the referee's chambers and the red lights halted the frantic charges of all four riders with the finishing positions counting as they were when they had crossed the line for the fourth time. There were more red lights in heat three, two lots in fact as first Zach Cook was squeezed out and then in the rerun Jake Allen appeared to turn later than expected and ploughed into Ben Cook who flew along the track injuring his side and back. But gallantly the diminutive Cook picked himself up and sensationally went out for the third start, even though he was expected to have been stood down. Along with Zach in support the brothers banged in a 5-1 to edge Poole ahead for the first time. A tapes offence by Nathan Ablitt, studied hard on the monitors by the referee, opened things up for Kemp to be called in. Around the first turn Joe Thompson edged out Michael Palm-Toft but the Dane recovered, although not before Steve Worrall had found his way by Kemp to maintain Poole's advantage. But then Scunthorpe hit back big time in heat five as Douglas and Lambert combined to beat the Pirates unbeaten engine room pairing, although again, much to his credit, Ben Cook refused to give up without a fight.

Some super work by Anders Rowe to find a route to the front allowed the Pirates to claim their second maximum heat score of the night, restoring a slender lead in the process. Worrall and Newman were looking sharp round the first arc in heat seven and looked to have the potential of another big score but then as the race unfolded their attacking nature had to switch to  defensive caution, for Allen passed Newman then set about Worrall whilst Mountain was nibbling away at Newman. The Poole pair, though, secured a 4-2, thus doubling their lead but still looking for a way to stamp their authority on the meeting.

Both sides swapped riders around in heat eight and whilst the introduced Kemp made the running he had to be on his guard as Rowe was getting faster by the lap and looking more threatening with each turn of the wheel. Newman, replacing Thompson, made the heat share stick as he held off Lambert. There was daylight, well there would have been had sunset not been reached an hour ago, for Zach Cook in heat nine but Ben had the obstacle of Kemp in his way, the elder Cook doing well again to keep the pressure on throughout and only ran out of race distance by a narrow margin in the end. Despite Rod Godfrey, on team manager duties for the Scorpions', assurance that Douglas would not have a six ride evening as they had no intention of being far enough behind for a tactical option, that juncture arrived and he was deployed in heat ten. But Richard Lawson produced the goods and became the first rider in Douglas' last nine rides at Wimborne Road, to lower his colours, but with Kemp and Douglas ahead of Rowe that six point lead still existed. Having seen his maximum broken, two-on-the-trot Douglas then broke Worrall's hitherto perfect night and crucially Lambert kept out Newman at the back and Scunthorpe began to eat into that deficit.

Ben Cook looked determined to arrest the slide as he led all the way in heat twelve, a race in which Thompson made a sensational move around the south turn to come out of turn four marginally in second place. But both Connor Mountain and Kemp made their way back past the Poole youngster to share the spoils.

Godfrey then rested out-of-sorts Palm-Toft in heat thirteen, in favour of Nathan Ablitt who needed to appear at least once before heat fifteen to complete his mandatory rides. It was  a move that wasn't communicated to the referee and led to some considerable confusion a heat later. Before that incident though Douglas avenged for his sole defeat by Lawson as heat thirteen went the way as five previous heats, points evenly shared, leaving Poole holding a four point advantage with two heats remaining.

In came Kemp as a replacement for Ablitt in heat fourteen, a move that the referee had challenged not being aware that Ablitt had actually completed his necessary rides. Kemp showed his frustration with the decision to deny him the chance to race and as he tried to roar away from the starting area in protest his bike gave up the ghost. After further talks with the pits and clarifying the Ablitt situation, the decision was overturned and Kemp was allowed to race. 

However, with time running out and no bike, he actually came out on Ablitt's bike causing even more confusion as it was announced it was Ablitt. Once the riders settled though, Allen moved early causing further delay and picking up a warning. It made no difference as both Allen and Kemp managed to make level starts and get the better of both Newman and Zach Cook to square the meeting.

A fifth win of the night for Douglas ensured Wimborne Road history would be made with a first ever SuperHeat race to determine the meeting's winner (as a draw is not a valid result under the 2023 rules, although both sides knew they had chalked up at least one play-off point).

For the 4-3-2-0 scoring decider it was important not to finish last and when Douglas looked over his shoulder to see Kemp behind both Pirates, the Australian attempted to slow the race down to give Kemp the chance to make progress. But Lawson, aware of the risk of just sitting tight, saw an opportunity to reel Douglas in and went past him, a sensible move given that Worrall had several yards on Kemp and just had to maintain that for a Poole 6-3 victory.

POOLE 45+6
Richard Lawson 2,2',3,2,1'=14+2 (5)
Anders Rowe 1',3,2,0=6+1 (4)
Ben Cook 3,1,1,3=8 (4)
Zach Cook 2',0,3,0=5+1 (4)
Steve Worrall 3,3,2,1',2=13+1 (5)
Kyle Newman 2,1,1',0,1=5+1 (5)
Joe Thompson 0,0,RS,0=0 (3)
Ryan Douglas 3,3,2,3,3,3=20 (6)
Simon Lambert 0,2',0,1=3+1 (4)
Connor Mountain 0,0,TS,2=2 (3)
Jake Allen 1,2,1',3,0=7+1 (5)
Michael Palm-Toft 1',1,0,RS=2+1 (3)
Drew Kemp 3,2,RS,3,2,1',2'=13+2 (6)
Nathan Ablitt 1,XE,0,RS,0,RS=1 (4)
Ht 1:  R.Douglas, R.Lawson, A.Rowe, S.Lambert 3-3 3-3 [59.72]
Ht 2:  D.Kemp, K.Newman, N.Ablitt, J.Thompson 2-4 5-7 [59.53]
Ht 3:  B.Cook, Z.Cook, J.Allen, C.Mountain 5-1 10-8 [59.53]
Ht 4:  S.Worrall, D.Kemp, M.Palm-Toft, J.Thompson, N.Ablitt [tapes exc] 3-3 13-11 [59.59]
Ht 5:  R.Douglas, S.Lambert, B.Cook, Z.Cook 1-5 14-16 [59.85]
Ht 6:  A.Rowe, R.Lawson, M.Palm-Toft, N.Ablitt 5-1 19-17 [60.06]
Ht 7:  S.Worrall, J.Allen, K.Newman, C.Mountain 4-2 23-19 [60.56]
Ht 8:  D.Kemp, A.Rowe, K.Newman, S.Lambert 3-3 26-22 [61.4]
Ht 9:  Z.Cook, D.Kemp, B.Cook, M.Palm-Toft 4-2 30-24 [60.53]
Ht 10:  R.Lawson, R.Douglas, J.Allen, A.Rowe, C.Mountain [Tac Subbed] 3-3 33-27 [60.81]
Ht 11:  R.Douglas, S.Worrall, S.Lambert, K.Newman 2-4 35-31 [60.41]
Ht 12:  B.Cook, C.Mountain, D.Kemp, J.Thompson 3-3 38-34 [60.6]
Ht 13:  R.Douglas, R.Lawson, S.Worrall, N.Ablitt 3-3 41-37 [60.41]
Ht 14:  J.Allen, D.Kemp, K.Newman, Z.Cook 1-5 42-42 [61.47]
Ht 15:  R.Douglas, S.Worrall, R.Lawson, J.Allen 3-3 45-45 [60.69]
Ht 16 Super Heat:  R.Lawson (4) R.Douglas (3) S.Worrall (2) D.Kemp (0) 
SCB Referee Mr Gary Allan 
SCUNTHORPE won toss and chose gates 1&3 | POOLE choose gates 1&3 in heat 15  
Play Off Points Poole 2 Scunthorpe 1

Photo Credits: Tony Hartmann and Anthony Burchall

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