Wednesday October 09, 2019
SWINDON will take a ten-point advantage into the second leg of their play-off semi-final – after a sensational 49-39 win at Wolverhampton.

The CFS Filtration Robins return home on Thursday after a dramatic away victory in far from ideal conditions to put them in control of the tie at the halfway stage.

An unexpected heavy downpour in the build-up to the meeting led to a 30-minute delay whilst the Monmore track staff worked hard to ensure the action could go ahead.

Conditions were tricky and heavy, and it was the Robins who adapted better, with Wolves seeing their home track advantage wiped out.

Skipper Jason Doyle led the charge and was unbeaten apart from a rare spill in Heat 5, whilst Tobiasz Musielak stormed to wins in his first three rides – but all members of the visiting side played their part, with reserves Claus Vissing and Ellis Perks contributing 11 points between them.

Both sides suffered a catalogue of incidents and falls with Doyle, Adam Ellis (twice) and Troy Batchelor hitting the deck for Swindon whilst Rasmus Jensen was beset by mechanical problems.

But the home team had their own issues and were kept in contention by a lively show from reserve Luke Becker, although he too hit trouble later on.

Robins led by six points after three races with Vissing and Perks notching a more than useful 4-2 in Heat 2, whilst Musielak and Jensen got the better of Nick Morris and Rory Schlein for the first 5-1 in the next.

Wolves hit back and the Robins suffered a double blow in Heat 5 when Doyle fell on turn one and then Ellis came to grief when battling with Morris to hand the hosts a 5-0.

That ensured Wolves held a narrow lead for much of the mid-stages, and the luck swung both ways with Kyle Howarth spinning out on turn four in Heat 6, whilst Jensen lost third place to Ryan Douglas due to bike problems in Heat 7.

Ellis changed bikes to good effect to win Heat 8, but Batchelor came down on turn three in the next when Schlein locked slightly in front of him, with Wolves taking a 5-1 in the re-run.

That put them three points to the good, and there was more drama in Heat 10 when Becker fell on turn four but still had a chance to rescue a point before Jensen nursed his ailing machine to the flag.

Trailing 29-30, Robins got a huge result out of Heat 11 but only after a huge scare when Doyle lifted out of turn two and somehow controlled his bike to avoid skittling team-mate Ellis on the back straight – and they held on for a massive 5-1.

Becker rode a stormer to beat Musielak in Heat 12 but then the tie swung massively in Swindon’s favour, first when Doyle and Batchelor raced to a 5-1 in Heat 13, holding off Sam Masters despite a nervous moment on the second lap.

And in Heat 14 it all went wrong for Wolves when Morris fell on turn two after contact with team-mate Becker – and with Jensen having swapped to Ellis’s bike for the re-run after more problems in the initial staging, the Robins gated on a 5-1 before Becker fell on the second lap in his efforts to catch up, all of which handed Swindon a 5-0 of their own.

That raised the lead to ten, prior to a shared final race as Doyle dominated whilst Masters salvaged third place from Musielak.

Robins boss Alun Rossiter said: “I’m absolutely over the moon with that. We came to keep it close, and we were doing it despite the 5-0 which could have spelt trouble, and to pull away to win by ten points is fantastic.

“The boys all got stuck in, and we were making fast starts. Full credit to them all, and you have to give credit to both sets of riders because that rain did make it difficult.

“Again the reserves really scored well for us, and that takes the pressure off the boys at the top. Troy didn’t have the best of nights, and Rasser had engine trouble all night, so I think all things considered it’s a fantastic result.

“But we’re not getting carried away, it’s only half-time, and we all know what can happen.”

The second leg takes place at the Abbey on Thursday (7.30pm) with a place in the Grand Final against Ipswich awaiting the winners.

WOLVERHAMPTON 39: Rory Schlein 10, Sam Masters 8+2, Luke Becker 8, Nick Morris 4+2, Jacob Thorssell 4, Ryan Douglas 3+1, Kyle Howarth 2.
SWINDON 49: Jason Doyle 11+1, Tobiasz Musielak 11, Claus Vissing 7, Adam Ellis 6, Rasmus Jensen 5+2, Troy Batchelor 5+2, Ellis Perks 4.

Picture: PAUL ROSE

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