Monday September 28, 2009
SWINDON forged a safe passage through to the Elite League Play-Off Grand Final, courtesy of a hard-earned 47-43 success over a very determined Coventry side at the Abbey Stadium.

With the addition of the 8-point advantage they received for heading the league table, the Robins went through to face Wolverhampton by an aggregate score-line of 100-88. This success means that the Wiltshire side has reached the final for the second time in three seasons.

The heat-leader trio of Matej Zagar, Simon Stead and Leigh Adams proved a formidable combination, notching 33 points between. Meanwhile, the remaining quartet grabbed vital second and third places throughout in what was a typically tense semi-final affair.

Leigh Adams (C) 3 3 2 1* 1* - - 10 (2)
Morten Risager 0 2* 2 0 - - - 4 (1)
Travis McGowan 0 0 1 2 - - - 3
Simon Stead 3 2 3 3 - - - 11
Matej Zagar 3 3 2 2 2 - - 12
Cory Gathercole 2 0 1* 1 - - - 4 (1)
Mark Lemon 1* 1 1* 0 - - - 3 (2)
Team manager: Alun Rossiter

Chris Harris (C) 2 3 3 3 3 - - 14
Olly Allen 1* 1 3 0 - - - 5 (1)
Ben Barker 1* 1* 3 3 0 - - 8 (2)
Edward Kennett 2 2 1 2 - - - 7
Rory Schlein 2 1 2 0 - - - 5
Josh Auty 3 0 0 1 0 - - 4
Jordan Frampton R 0 F - - - - 0
Team managers: Colin Pratt & Peter Oakes
Referee: Jim Lawrence

Ht 1: Adams, Harris, Allen, Risager, 64.49 (3-3)
Ht 2: (Re-Run twice) Auty, Gathercole, Lemon, Frampton (ret), 66.24 (6-6)
Ht 3: Stead, Kennett, Barker, McGowan, 65.18 (9-9)
Ht 4: Zagar, Schlein, Lemon, Frampton, 65.71 (13-11)
Ht 5: Harris, Stead, Allen, McGowan, 64.31 (15-15)
Ht 6: Adams, Risager, Schlein, Auty, 66.11 (20-16)
Ht 7: Zagar, Kennett, Barker, Gathercole, 65.43 (23-19)
Ht 8: Allen, Risager, Lemon, Frampton (fell), 66.99 (26-22)
Ht 9: Stead, Schlein, McGowan, Auty, 66.49 (30-24)
Ht 10: Barker, Adams, Kennett, Risager, 66.18 (32-28)
Ht 11: (Re-Run) Harris, Zagar, Gathercole, Allen, 65.12 (35-31)
Ht 12: Barker, McGowan, Auty, Lemon, 66.67 (37-35)
Ht 13: Harris, Zagar, Adams, Schlein, 65.27 (40-38)
Ht 14: Stead, Kennett, Gathercole, Auty, 66.11 (44-40)
Ht 15: (Nominated) Harris (g), Zagar (b), Adams (r), Barker (y), 65.36 (47-43)

Programme change:
Ht 14: Auty replaced Frampton.

A BUMPER attendance packed into the Abbey Stadium as a typically rapturous wave of Play-off fever engulfed the Blunsdon raceway.

In a nail-biting encounter, the Swindon septet held their nerve to repel a persistent Coventry challenge which subsequently secured the Wiltshire side a safe route through to what promises to be a mouth-watering Elite league finale.

However, Swindon’s scoring was limited by a Coventry side who supplied nine heat winners and never trailed by more that a six point margin on the night.

The Warwickshire side were brilliantly served by their Captain Chris Harris who notched a wonderful paid fourteen point tally.

Harris’s fellow Cornishman, the thrill-a-minute Ben Barker, contributed a well acquired double figure haul of his own. Elsewhere, decent middle order contributions from Edward Kennet and Oliver Allen ensured Coventry remained in contention throughout.

Proceedings got underway in fine fashion as Leigh Adams indulged in an absorbing lap one battle with Bees’ skipper Chris Harris to secure victory. Adams roared underneath Harris in the early stages and the Australian’s victory secured an opening race points share.

A thrice re-run heat two saw Coventry’s youthful British reserve Joshua Auty claim a well deserved win. The teenager fended off attentions from a hard charging Cory Gathercole to notch the meeting’s second successive points share.

A further 3-3 ensued in a heat three that saw Simon Stead romp to a commanding tapes-to-flag victory.

The all action style of Slovenian thrill-merchant Matej Zagar whipped the Abbey Stadium faithful into a heat four frenzy, the Robins’ no.5 flirted with Blunsdon’s wider outposts as he blazed to an emphatic win. Mark Lemon’s third place finish handed Swindon their first heat advantage of the night and nudged Alun Rossiter’s side into a two point lead.

Coventry struck back immediately in heat five as Chris Harris and Oliver Allen combined to level the scores, before Leigh Adams and Morten Risager coaxed the ‘Blunsdon roar’ from the home straight terrace by registering a hard fought 5-1 in heat six.

Zagar eased to victory in race seven before Oliver Allen successfully fended off persistent pressure from Morten Risager to secure a heat eight win.

Simon Stead and Travis McGowan extended Swindon’s lead to six points with a 4-2 in the ensuing encounter before Coventry’s lively middle order duo of Barker and Kennett registered a heat ten 4-2.

Barker rode superbly to hold of Robins’ skipper Leigh Adams who threw everything at the Bees’ rider in the latter stages.

A heat eleven 3-3 quickly followed as Chris Harris continued his hot steak by defeating Matej Zagar before Barker and Auty combined for a heat twelve 4-2 which slashed Swindon’s on the night advantage to just two points.

However, a heat thirteen points share left Swindon’s aggregate lead at ten points meaning Alun Rossiter’s side required just a solitary point from the concluding two races to ensure a position in the Elite League Grand Final.

The necessary points were duly gained in heat fourteen as Simon Stead concluded a workmanlike performance in fine style with a terrific race win.

A point share in concluding race maintained Swindon’s four point cushion on the night and secured a twelve point aggregate victory.

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