Kings Lynn Stars v Poole Pirates
Needing a positive result to ensure pick off play-off opponents, defending champions Poole couldn't buy a heat win in the first four heats but it wasn't for want of trying, particularly by skipper Josh Grajczonek who pinned himself to Erik Riss once wrestling clear of Stars' guest Chris Harris in heat three.
Reserve Ricky Wells lifted badly at the start of heat four costing him ground and he had to be a little grateful to stand-in Stars' reserve Josh MacDonald who made a second turn error on the final lap that allowed Wells the room to pass by and share the heat.
However, once a Pirates breakthrough came it was emphatic enough as Brady Kurtz's heat five victory was ably supported by Nico Covatti, who had retired first time out.
Emphatic in terms of points, but not in ease as again Harris dug in and this time was the one doing the attacking, Covatti blocking every attempt with determination. The outcome levelled the scores, wiping out Lynn's two 4-2 advantages from heats one and three.
Their third 4-2 followed in heat six, Thomas H Jonasson packing up as Jack Holder split Robert Lambert and Lewis Kerr. That was two rides, two wins for Lambert and his GB team-mate Craig Cook followed suit in the seventh, but both Grajczonek (second) and Nicolai Klindt were far too much quality for MacDonald and the third shared heat was recorded.
Wells was much better away in heat eight and after once again working hard to fend off Harris, Covatti became part and parcel of the second 5-1 of the night, edging Poole into a two-point lead. But a switch of reserves then gave Wells two on the bounce, though he couldn't add to his paid six acquired from his three previous rides and with Holder again only managing separation of the opponents the meeting levelled up and stayed that way going into the interval, once Lambert claimed victory number three and Grajczonek and Klindt kept Kerr out of the scoring in heat 10.
After the break, race wins began to flow for the Pirates. Only two recorded from the first two-thirds of the meeting they began the last phase of the meeting with another Kurtz and Covatti maximum, the pair sharp out the traps and in control when Cook, clearly having not resolved his machine problems that had made him late to the tapes, pulled up . Klindt was stylish in winning heat 12 at the expense of Riss and backed up in third by Jonasson as the biggest margin between the two sides developed, Poole leading by half a dozen with a dozen heats done.
Kurtz wasted no time in hitting the front in heat thirteen, a vital trap that ended Lambert's unbeaten evening and the league's top spot shone brighter with Holder converting Kurtz's win into a 4-2. A second place was all that was needed from heat fourteen to ensure Poole would overhaul Swindon in the league table and Lynn chose to use the tactical option with Riss deputising for Kerr, to partner Harris and try and deny the Pirates their glory.
For a while it looked as though the league programme would go right down to the 1,260th scheduled race, but Grajczonek kept battling away and went into second place just moments before the man who has written so many play-off headlines, Chris Harris, began to suffer mechanical issues and pulled up. By some irony, he will be involved when Poole race again, with the club selecting Ipswich as their semi-final opponents.
Eight points remained the difference so the only significance of heat 15 was whether Poole could finish the league campaign with their only four point away of the season. Holder and Kurtz made certain that would be the case, securing the fourth maximum heat advantage of the night, all of which were in the Pirates favour.
KING'S LYNN 39
Ht 1: R.Lambert, B.Kurtz, E.Riss, N.Covatti, [rtd] 4-2 4-2 [59.37]
Ht 2: L.Kerr, R.Wells, T.Jonasson, J.MacDonald, 3-3 7-5 [61.06]
Ht 3: E.Riss, J.Grajczonek, C.Harris, N.Klindt, 4-2 11-7 [60.75]
Ht 4: C.Cook, J.Holder, R.Wells, J.MacDonald, 3-3 14-10 [60.25]
Ht 5: B.Kurtz, N.Covatti, C.Harris, E.Riss 1-5 15-15 (60.25)
Ht 6: R.Lambert, J.Holder, L.Kerr, T.Jonasson, [rtd] 4-2 19-17 [60.38]
Ht 7: C.Cook, J.Grajczonek, N.Klindt, J.MacDonald 3-3 22-20 (61.06)
Ht 8: R.Wells, N.Covatti, C.Harris, L.Kerr 1-5 23-25 (61.38)
Ht 9: E.Riss, J.Holder, C.Harris, R.Wells 4-2 27-27 (60.88)
Ht 10: R.Lambert, J.Grajczonek, N.Klindt, L.Kerr 3-3 30-30 (60.38)
Ht 11: B.Kurtz, N.Covatti, L.Kerr, C.Cook (rtd) 1-5 31-35 (60.69)
Ht 12: N.Klindt, E.Riss, T.Jonasson, J.MacDonald (fell) 2-4 33-39 (60.75)
Ht 13: B.Kurtz, R.Lambert, J.Holder, C.Cook 24 35-43 (60.75)
Ht 14: E.Riss, J.Grajczonek, R.Wells, C.Harris (rtd) 3-3 38-46 (61.18)
Ht 15:J.Holder, N.Klindt, E.Riss, C.Cook 1-5 39-51 (61.46)
REFEREE: Paul Carrington
POOLE won toss and chose gates 2&4 | KING'S LYNN choose gates 1&3 in heat 15
League Points: KING'S LYNN 0 POOLE 4