Report from Joshua Taylor at Wimborne Road
An inspired Poole Pirates overturned a two-point first leg deficit to beat Somerset Rebels 47-43 (91-89 on aggregate) in their Speedway Premiership semi-final, with rider-of-the-night Chris “Bomber” Harris sealing the victory on the last lap.
Poole, who are currently celebrating their 70th anniversary, now have a shot at the Speedway Premiership Grand Final for the first time since 2015. The Pirates had previously endured a season fraught with highs and lows with tonight’s race meeting no exception.
Somerset started brightly with speedway legend Jason Doyle securing his first of three heat wins of the night. A Rebels one-two finish quickly saw them leading 6-12 on the night and the Pirates facing an uphill battle.
Drama ensued in heat 4 when Poole’s Brady Kurtz collided with Somerset’s Jack Holder on the third bend. Although the latter managed to walk off of the track, both were taken to hospital. It was later revealed the Kurtz had broken his collar-bone and will now miss the final.
A lengthy delay left some forlorn faces leaving early, fearing the worst. However, those that did brave the cold were left by no means disappointed.
A spirited performance in heat 8 by Pirates captain Josh Grajczonek and number seven Frederik Jacobsen, saw Poole take maximum points in their first race win of the tie. What followed was three successive one-two finishes which were met by rapturous applause as Poole took the lead.
However, in yet another twist to an enthralling night of racing Somerset hit back with the Rebels pairing of Nico Covatti and Jake Allen recording maximum points once more in heat 12.
The two teams were evenly matched in the next two heats setting up a winner-takes-all final finish. Poole had the lead on the night at 43-41 but the tie was all-square on aggregate.
Down to the wire
The stage was set with two heavyweights of the sport Chris Harris and Jason Doyle facing off once more. However, Harris lived up to his nickname of ‘Bomber’ as he blasted past Doyle on the final turn to clinch the tie.
After the race Pirates manager Neil Middleditch thanked the “absolutely fantastic” fans for the big part they played in the victory. Speaking ahead of the final he said, “We know it’s going to be a tough final, but I think we’ve done remarkably well to get where we did from where we were in July when we were rock bottom, and everyone was writing us off.” He added: “Never underestimate a Pirate”.
Poole Pirates will face Kings Lynn Stars in the final after they beat Belle Vue Aces 103-77 on aggregate.
Rider of the night: Chris Harris
‘Volvo cars’ Poole Pirates: 47 (91)
Chris Harris 11+1, Josh Grajczonek (c) 5+3, Kacper Woryna 8+1, Nicolai Klindt 11+3, Richie Worrell (r) 8, Frederik Jacobsen (r) 4 Brady Kurtz 0
‘Cases’ Somerset Rebels: 43 (89)
Jason Doyle 11, Kyle Howarth 3, Richard Lawson 7+2, Jake Allen (r) 11, Nico Covatti (r) 11+3, Jack Holder 0, Aaron Summers r/r
Poole win 91-89 on aggregate
(x) = total score
+(x) = paid bonus point
(c) = captain
(r) = reserve rider
r/r = rider replacement