SWINDON Robins roared into the Grand Final of the SGB Premiership with a gutsy victory in the second leg of their semi-final at home to Poole Pirates tonight.

Holding a two-point lead from the first leg at Wimborne Road a fortnight ago, Alun Rossiter’s troops appeared to have one foot in the final when they had pushed that to eight after eight heats at the Abbey Stadium.

However, a spate of falls cost the hosts’ dearly, with Poole even taking a 5-0 win in heat 11 to move ahead on the night and within one point overall.

Swindon showed all their heart and spirit in adversity, though, putting together three maximums in a row after that to wrap up the victory with a race to spare and book a spot in next week’s final against either Wolverhampton Wolves on Belle Vue Aces.

Reserve Bradley Wilson-Dean led the scoring charts for Swindon with 13+2 points, with his three race wins matched by Nick Morris, who also hitting double figures on 11 points.

Robins team manager Rossiter said: “I said it was going to be nip and tuck but I was confident we would come strong in the end and we did.

“Just when we needed it, Bradley has come good. He has had a tough year but he rode his socks off tonight and full credit to him.

“It has been a very good night for us and I am really pleased for the boys. I am chuffed to bits at the moment.”

There appeared to be nerves in the Swindon camp early on as a flying start from Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder looked to have Poole on for a 5-1 in the opening race. However, Adam Ellis was able to get by the latter for second, although Jason Doyle was stuck at the back in last.

A wonderful start from Wilson-Dean saw the home side hit back with a 4-2 success of their own in the next race and Tobiasz Musielak repeated the trick in heat three, getting the drop on the rest off the line to roar to a commanding victory.

Heat four seemed set to produce the first shared heat as Hans Andersen held off the charging Morris to triumph for Poole, only for the Pirates to snatch another 4-2 on the last lap as James Shanes got by Liam Carr.

It then became five 4-2 outcomes in succession, with Swindon taking the next one thanks to the brilliance of David Bellego. Kurtz gated the best but the Frenchman held a tight line out of the second bend before diving up the inside to get the pass and the win to push the hosts 16-14 in front on the night and four points clear on aggregate.

Only a fall for Ellis in heat six led to the first shared heat of the night, although Swindon were able to limit the damage as Doyle claimed a convincing win after leaving the Pirates pair in his dust on the startline.

With that followed the maiden maximum in the next race and crucially, it went the way of the Robins as Morris and Wilson-Dean put in a superb team ride, taking control off the line and riding virtually side-by-side until the flag.

It should have been back-to-back 5-1s for Swindon in heat eight but that was squandered with some last-lap drama. Wilson-Dean and Ellis were away and clear but Holder was able to sneak into second and Ellis then went down attempting to salvage the position, promoting Paul Starke to third and gifting Poole a share of the points.

A dominant ride from Andersen ended a run of three straight Robins wins in the next, with the Pirates taking a heat advantage in the process, although the home side soon got back to form as Doyle produced another dominant ride to win a shared 10th race as Swindon led 32-28 and by six overall.

Disaster struck for Swindon in heat 11 as they failed to register a point as the semi-final was blown wide open. Firstly, Morris went down before Carr did likewise when leading the re-run, gift wrapping a 5-0 result for Poole won by Kurtz.

The Robins did not panic and got the perfect response in the next outing, with Wilson-Dean again to the fore as he led home Musielak for a brilliant home maximum.

The hosts repeated the trick in heat 13 courtesy of two cracking rides. Andersen got the best start but Morris dived up the inside to take the lead before Doyle pulled off two stunning passes having been last early on to make it back-to-back 5-1s to put Swindon on the brink of the final.

That place was secured in stunning fashion in the very next race as Rossiter’s troops made it three maximums in succession courtesy of unstoppable front-running performances from Bellego and Wilson-Dean.

Morris then added more gloss to the final outcome with his third victory of the night to leave the Abbey in buoyant mood ahead of next week’s Grand Final.


SWINDON: Jason Doyle 8+1 (0-3-3-2’), Adam Ellis 2 (2-FX-F), Tobiasz Musielak 9+1 (3-1-2-2’-1), David Bellego 7 (1-3-0-3), Nick Morris 11 (2-3-FX-3-3), Bradley Wilson-Dean 13+2 (3-2’-3-0-3-2’), Liam Carr 1 (1-0-F).
POOLE: Brady Kurtz 8 (3-2-3-0-0), Jack Holder 5+1 (1-0-2-2’), Edward Kennett 3 (0-1-2-0), Timo Lahti 3+1 (2-R-1’-0), Hans Andersen 11 (3-2-3-1-2), Paul Starke 5+2 (2-1’-1’-1), James Shanes 3 (0-1-1-1).