Thursday August 31, 2017
SWINDON will head into the SGB Premiership play-offs on top of the league table – after a 52-40 win over reigning champions Wolverhampton at the Abbey.

The result, a 17th successive victory, means the Carpets4Less Robins will compete the regular campaign as leaders for the first time since 2009, and now have first choice of opponents in the semi-finals.

With Belle Vue and Wolves also secure in the top four, the last place could be decided in Poole’s favour on Friday if the Pirates win at Somerset – or if the Robins record another victory at fifth-placed Rye House.

Should the results go the other way, the race for fourth will carry over into the final fixtures next week.

Thursday’s meeting saw the Robins produce one of their best performances of recent weeks against strong opposition, with skipper Jason Doyle carding a paid maximum – despite a nightmare journey to the track.

Doyle was caught in major motorway delays following a serious accident, and with the co-operation of the referee and the visitors, the start of the meeting was put back by around 25 minutes.

When it got underway, Doyle quickly combined with the impressive Adam Ellis for maximum points in Heat 1 with the Australian surging past his World title rival Fredrik Lindgren on the second lap.

Wolves, though, provided stubborn opposition with a series of shared races following, as David Bellego suffered mechanical trouble in his first outing – although a classy Tobiasz Musielak muscled his way past Steve Worrall to win Heat 3 and then got the better of Lindgren and Worrall in Heat 5.

Robins extended their lead to ten points courtesy of back-to-back 4-2s in Heats 6, 7 and 8, Wolves’ Sam Masters suffering mechanical trouble when third in the former race – whilst the next saw the visitors’ Nathan Greaves crash out as he over-did turn one in a battle with Nick Morris, which also brought down Swindon guest Tero Aarnio.

The Finn, an impressive winner of Heat 2, recovered to collect third place in Heat 8 as Ellis smartly trapped to get the better of Worrall to put the Robins 29-19 up.

Masters took his second win in Heat 9 but Doyle and Ellis raised the gap to 12 in the next, with Wolves responding by sending Lindgren out for a tactical ride in Heat 11.

A sensational race almost saw Aarnio bring the house down as he led the Swedish star for two-and-a-half laps before suffering a cruel engine blow – but Morris wasn’t finished as he stormed inside Lindgren going into the last bend and then held off his rival’s return challenge on the run to the line.

With Musielak a clear winner of Heat 12, Robins required just an advantage from Heat 13 to secure top spot – and they got the maximum 5-1, although it owed much on this occasion to Masters coming to a halt when looking set to hold off Doyle and Morris.

There were late consolation race wins for Jacob Thorssell and Lindgren in the final two heats, and mechanical trouble for Musielak in the last, but overall it was a convincing Swindon display thoroughly deserving of the points.

Boss Alun Rossiter said: “Both teams had some engine failures when in good positions but it’s swings and roundabouts and in speedway you make your own luck.

“We showed good strength and character tonight, but all the hard work really starts now. You can’t take anything for granted when it comes to the play-offs.

“It’s a completely different ball-game, everyone starts afresh and everyone is hungry. We’ve just got to keep the same attitude going and have everyone on their game.

“Jason was sat in traffic for nearly four hours, and fair play to him because he got here at 7.30pm, got changed and went out and scored a paid maximum – and then he was out there signing autographs afterwards. It shows how much he’s matured as a rider and a person.

“Our top five really have been superb, and Adam Ellis has done a great job riding at No.2, which is a tough number in this league. He’s really come on strong in these last couple of months.”

SWINDON 52: Nick Morris 12+1, Jason Doyle 11+1, Tobiasz Musielak 10, Adam Ellis 8, Tero Aarnio 5+1, David Bellego 4, Alfie Bowtell 2+1.
WOLVERHAMPTON 40 : Freddie Lindgren 10+1, Jacob Thorssell 9+1, Sam Masters 8, Steve Worrall 7+1, Mark Riss 4+2, Nathan Greaves 2, Rory Schlein r/r.

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