Tuesday October 15, 2013
POOLE cruised to their fifth Elite League title of the play-off era with a thoroughly professional performance at Perry Barr – and in doing so, banished one of their most unhappy memories of recent years.

In 2010 the Pirates topped the table only to be undone by an in-form fourth-placed Coventry in the Grand Final, but on this occasion the boot was on the on the other foot with the Dorset club’s late run taking them into the top four and all the way to the crown, whilst deflated Birmingham were on the receiving end.

It can be cruel, but for the last decade and more the top flight has been about reaching the play-offs and striking top form at the right time, and speedway is far from the only sport to decide its biggest prize in that fashion.

Television has played a part, of course, in the requirement for an on-the-night resolution to major issues, but modern society is also a major factor as attendances would clearly suffer were there to be a host of meaningless matches should the league leaders be clear at mid-season.

Poole’s awesome display at Wimborne Road in the first leg had put them in the box seat, although they had to wait an extra 24 hours to wrap things up with incessant weekend rain forcing a Tuesday re-staging for the Perry Barr leg.

And any lingering Brummies hopes were realistically extinguished within three races, by which time they were 5-13 down on the night and had lost skipper Danny King after a heavy crash on the third bend when he picked up unwanted drive and clipped the back wheel of Greg Hancock.

The tricky track conditions caused by the weather might have given the Brummies the sort of unusual circumstances required to create an upset, but several home riders appeared uncomfortable and Poole scored right down the order, including at reserve where Josh Grajczonek continued his stunning play-off form and Kyle Newman made a great start to the meeting.

Jason Doyle and Chris Harris were the best for the Brummies but they were eight points down before Harris even entered the circuit, with Hancock team-riding Grajczonek home for a 5-1 over Ben Barker in the re-run of Heat 3.
Doyle had beaten Darcy Ward in Heat 1 when the Pirates skipper had gone wide on the first turn, but that was to be the GP man’s only defeat and he generally won his races by a distance.

Ward’s race partner Tomas H Jonasson twice hit trouble when in strong scoring positions, and the Brummies did work hard to get back on terms on the night, Josh Auty producing a fine effort to round Jonasson in Heat 8.

The title was secured by a tapes-to-flag Ward win in Heat 11 after Jonasson crashed out, and the Brummies’ best moment came in the next race with Auty and Nico Covatti lowering the colours of Hancock.

The Pirates, though, weren’t to be denied victory on the night as Ward teamed up with Maciej Janowski, who improved as the night went on, in Heat 13 and although Barker took the penultimate race his partner Auty was disqualified after a heavy second-bend tumble.

Ward’s Heat 15 win ensured there would be no late consolation for the Brummies, who can still look back on a terrific campaign albeit one that just lost momentum in the closing stages. Poole, though, now with five titles in eleven seasons, have proved again that they should never be written off.

M.Smolinski R 1 1 0 - - - - 2
J.Doyle 3 3 1 3 2 - - 12
D.King X - - - - - 0
B.Barker 1 2 1 3 - - - 7
C.Harris 3 3 2 1 1* - - 10+1
N.Covatti 1 1* 0 1* 2* - - 5+3
J.Auty 0 1 3 0 3 X - 7
Team manager: Phil Morris

D.Ward 2 3 3 3 3 - - 14
T.Jonasson 1* X 2 X - - - 3+1
G.Hancock 2* 1* 2 0 0 - - 5+2
Rider Replacement – Rohan Tungate
M.Janowski 0 2 2* 2* - - - 6+2
J.Grajczonek 2* 3 0 2 3 1 2 13+1
K.Newman 3 2 0 0 1* - - 6+1
Team manager: Neil Middleditch
Referee: Jim Lawrence

1 Doyle, Ward, Jonasson, Smolinski (ret), 57.90 (3-3)
2 Newman, Grajczonek, Covatti, Auty, 58.71 (4-8)
3 (re-run) Grajczonek, Hancock, Barker, King (f.exc), 58.85 (5-13)
4 Harris, Newman, Auty, Janowski (9-15)
5 (awarded) Ward, Barker, Covatti, Jonasson (f.exc), no time (12-18)
6 Doyle, Janowski, Smolinski, Grajczonek, 58.06 (16-20)
7 Harris, Grajczonek, Hancock, Covatti, 58.91 (19-23)
8 Auty, Jonasson, Doyle, Newman, 58.65 (23-25)
9 Grajczonek, Janowski, Barker, Auty, 58.96 (24-30)
10 Doyle, Hancock, Smolinski, Newman, 58.95 (28-32)
11 (re-run) Ward, Harris, Covatti, Jonasson (f.exc), 59.06 (31-35)
12 Auty, Covatti, Grajczonek, Hancock (36-36)
13 Ward, Janowski, Harris, Smolinski (37-41)
14 (re-run) Barker, Grajczonek, Newman, Auty (f.exc), 59.75 (40-44)
15 Ward, Doyle, Harris, Hancock, 58.78 (43-47)

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