ROBINS 51 POOLE 38

Monday September 25, 2017
SWINDON are through to the SGB Premiership Grand Final – after overcoming great rivals Poole on a night of high tension at the Abbey.

The Carpets4Less Robins eventually prevailed 51-38 in the second leg, and by a 15-point aggregate margin in the play-off semi-final, but that in no way told the story of a meeting which for long spells appeared destined to go right down to the wire.

And when the home side conceded a disastrous 5-0 in Heat 11 they actually trailed by a single point on the night – prior to coming up with a stunning finale by taking 19 of the remaining 20 points available.

Reserve Bradley Wilson-Dean, who had missed the first leg due to injury, was the big hero of the night with a paid-15 haul from six rides, and he was involved in three of the Robins’ four 5-1s.

But the Blunsdon side do have an injury concern over in-form Adam Ellis, who came to grief twice and was withdrawn with a wrist injury after his Heat 8 spill.

Ellis had prevented a 5-1 reverse in Heat 1 by splitting Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder as skipper Jason Doyle ran a rare last place, and the early stages were nip-and-tuck with a maximum of two points separating the sides on the night.

Robins appeared set to make headway in Heat 6 when Doyle and Ellis combined to squeeze out Hans Andersen going into the first bend, but Ellis then picked up drive on turn two and careered into the fence.

The breakthrough did come in Heat 7 with some superb team-riding by Nick Morris to assist Wilson-Dean to maximum points over a thrusting Edward Kennett – and Swindon looked like backing that up with another 5-1 in Heat 8 only for Ellis to come to grief on the final turn after a battle with Holder.

Poole refused to cave in and gained an unexpected 4-2 in Heat 9 with Andersen heading Tobiasz Musielak, whilst David Bellego was shunted wide on the first turn and was unable to regain ground on Pirates reserve James Shanes.

Robins led by six on aggregate with five heats to go, but Heat 11 changed the picture completely – and initially seemed to be going in their favour as guest Liam Carr gated on a 5-1 with Morris, only for Morris to come down on the third bend.

In the re-run Carr remarkably got ahead of Kurtz and Holder once more, but then slid wide exiting turn four, and clipped the fence and fell – leaving the Pirates to take a gift 5-0 despite mechanical trouble for Holder.

Suddenly the aggregate gap was down to just one point as Poole led 33-32 on the night, but the Swindon response was impressive and emphatic.

Wilson-Dean and Musielak launched clear of Kennett and Paul Starke for a nerve-easing 5-1 in Heat 12, whilst the next race was simply stunning as Morris shot between Andersen and Kurtz on turn two whilst Doyle picked off his rivals on successive laps to complete another maximum advantage.

That was effectively the decisive moment, but Bellego and Wilson-Dean applied the finishing touch with a third successive 5-1 in Heat 14, whilst Morris took the flag over Andersen in the finale.

Robins boss Alun Rossiter said: “It’s a great achievement, we had a few heart-stopping moments but we haven’t crumbled all year and I always felt we would come strong in the end.

“It’s a big achievement for us to get to the Final, especially because at the start of the year my hands were that tied and we were always one rider short. But when we found Tobi, it really turned our reason around.

“This result means a lot to me, and the team as a whole. I was pretty devastated after Friday (in the KO Cup), I make no bones about that – we should really have been in two Finals, but this is the main one, and hopefully it will be our year again.

“Brad was fantastic, he had a sponsor come forward to help him buy two new engines, and what a difference it made. He got the points we needed.

“We’re worried about Adam at the moment, and we don’t know if he’s broken his scaphoid. Chris Neville from Swindon Town FC will be working with him, we’ll get him checked out and hopefully it will turn out to just be a sprain.”

Robins will have to wait a little longer before discovering their opposition in next week’s Grand Final, as Belle Vue and Wolverhampton race to a finish in Manchester on Wednesday.

Wolves hold a 13-point lead going into the second leg, but it has already been confirmed that Swindon will stage the first leg of the Final at the Abbey on Monday October 2, with the away return 48 hours later.

SWINDON 51: Bradley Wilson-Dean 13+2, Nick Morris 11, Tobiasz Musielak 9+1, Jason Doyle 8+1, David Bellego 7, Adam Ellis 2, Liam Carr 1.
POOLE 38: Hans Andersen 11, Brady Kurtz 8, Paul Starke 5+2, Jack Holder 5+1, Timo Lahti 3+1, Edward Kennett 3, James Shanes 3.
Swindon win 97-82 on aggregate.

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