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THE ANDY WARREN COLUMN: Knockout clash is what we've been longing for
6:00am Monday 23rd September 2013 in Sport
HERE we go then, this is the one we’ve all been waiting for.
The Robins’ play-off place was never in any real doubt after their blistering start to the season, and for that reason I think riders, management, fans and media alike have all been looking ahead to the play-offs.
Those in the Swindon pit will probably tell you otherwise, but I think deep down the knockout stage has been at the forefront of their minds and has affected a number of decisions – and rightly so.
Things get serious now, and it’s going to be a thrilling ride until a winner is declared in the middle of October.
Unlike the Robins, Poole had a nervous wait to see if they made it to the party, but while plenty in British speedway were disappointed to see them sneak over the line, I for one was delighted.
We are set for two spectacular meetings between two teams with designs on the title, who both believe the other goes into the semi-final as the favourites.
That is a recipe for something truly special, and I suppose the only disappointment is that the winner of this battle will not be crowned champions. Not immediately, anyway, but I’m pretty certain this semi will provide the Elite League champions.
I make the Robins favourites for this, but then what do I know?
After a blip in form in part caused by various, well publicised, reasons the Robins are back in their stride, and I was particularly pleased to see captain Hans Andersen stroll to such a classy maximum against Lakeside.
He, Troy Batchelor and Peter Kildemand are far and away the leading top three in the Elite League, with Poole probably second, and they will play a vital role in this contest.
Underneath that the Robins are backed up by Edward Kennett and Nick Morris, and both of those have proven in patches they themselves are capable of holding heat leader positions. If either or both of Kennett or Morris produce that sort of form over two legs the Robins are all but there for me, but there is a long way to go yet.
Andersen is looking to win back to back titles for the first time, Greg Hancock remarkably has yet to win an Elite League medal, Morris wants to continue his run of winning a league in every season of his short career and young riders Darcy Ward, Kildemand and Batchelor want to add further glitter to their already well decorated careers.
This meeting has it all, so make sure you savour it.
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