ENCOURAGEMENT – one word to take from Swindon Robins’ performance at Monmore Green tonight as Alun Rossiter’s side started their 2019 SGB Premiership campaign with a 46-44 loss at Wolverhampton.

As always, there were murmurs of ifs and buts after the 15th and final chequered flag fell.

But a point at Monmore Green is always a point well earned, and the Robins have three further rolls of the dice in the next week with an Easter Friday trip to Poole sandwiched between home ties against Belle Vue and Ipswich.

Troy Batchelor caught the eye, as did Tobiasz Musielak on a track that he traditionally struggles on.

Perhaps the unluckiest of the bunch was James Shanes. The reserve registered two plus a bonus from his five rides, but deserved more and can take encouragement from his efforts.

Zach Wajtknecht on the other hand struggled, but he was afterwards instructed to forget the evening with Poole Pirates’ visit to the Abbey Stadium looming.

Adam Ellis was steady, while Dawid Lampart was beaten up on more than one occasion on a track that evidently did not suit. His gating however did grant Wolves cause for concern.

The Robins were at full strength for their Premiership opener – 2017 world champion Jason Doyle led the charge with new recruits Dawid Lampart and James Shanes filling positions four and seven. Rossiter’s troops made the perfect start when recording a tapes to flag 5-1 in the opening race.

Doyle and Ellis’ cause was helped by Howarth’s exclusion, he was forced to start from 15m after breaking through the tapes in the initial staging of the race.

Wolves hit back immediately, registering a 5-1 of their own in heat two as James Shanes’ first ride in Robins colours ended in a fall.

The concluding two heats of the first block of races were then shared, however Robins chief Alun Rossiter had reason to be encouraged with the score level at 12-12.

Tobiasz Musielak won heat three, while an unfortunate Dawid Lampart missed out when he was forced wide by his own team mate.

Troy Batchelor then comfortably won heat four, with Shanes trailing both Schlein and Becker.

There was drama in heat five – not only when Doyle touched the tapes in the initial staging, but also his last bend lunge on Becker.

Nicholls checked out for the race win, but Doyle cut back on Becker on the final turn to pass both Becker and team mate Ellis – who was relegated to last as the hosts clocked a 4-2.

Batchelor’s fine form continued with a tapes to flag win in heat six, but a lack of discipline at the start again cost the Robins in heat seven.

Lampart was the latest to touch the tapes – he was replaced by Shanes for the re-run as the Wolves edged 23-19 ahead at the half-way stage.

Shanes’ determination paid off in heat eight as he registered his first points in Robins colours, though he had to work overtime to record them.

The Dorset-based youngster had to pass Howarth three times before forcing his opponent wide on the final bend to earn a hard-fought 3-3 in heat eight.

Pete Adams’ Wolves placed the Robins into tactical territory after a 4-2 in heat nine.

Schlein won from the gate with Batchelor giving chase in second while Nicholls held off a struggling Wajtknecht to earn a point.

A solid start for Polish duo Musielak and Lampart in heat 10 put the visitors on a 5-1 briefly.

But the pair ran wide, and only Musielak could rescue points from the race as he charged around Howarth to earn the win – Lampart meanwhile was beaten up and finished fourth.

The six-point gap remained intact for Wolves after heat 11.

Schlein recorded his third race win of the night to beat the visiting pair of Doyle and Ellis.

With the score at 36-30, Robins boss Rossiter then deployed his tactical substitute as Doyle rode in place of Wajtknecht.

The switch worked to an extent, as the Robins recorded their first race advantage since the opening heat.

But it was clear that former world champion Doyle was struggling for speed – as nursed the bike home for third ahead of Becker while Musielak scooped the win ahead of Nicholls.

A mechanical tweak worked wonders for Doyle, who followed team mate Musielak home in heat 13 for a second 5-1 of the meeting for Rossiter’s side – levelling the match at 39-39.

Hopes of poaching a win were dashed in heat 14 though, as Lampart surrendered the race lead before crashing on the third lap after being passed by the Wolves’ pair of Becker and Nicholls.

Doyle missed out on nomination for the final heat – Rossiter opting to use Batchelor and Musielak.

Wolves were represented by Nicholls and Schlein.

Batchelor’s hot form continued as he raced from tapes to flag to win. Musielak meanwhile hunted down Nicholls in second.

The seven-times British champion was vulnerable, but used his track craft to clinch a two-point win for the hosts.

Swindon are next in action on Thursday night at home when hosting Poole Pirates (7.30pm).