Can the Pirates tame the Lions

On Wednesday 21st June, the Dorset coast town of Poole was singing to the tune of speedway as the multiple champions, the Pirates, were in Premiership action. The opposition for Wednesday’s meeting was the Leicester Lions and the Lions were heading south targeting points, as the Lions sat bottom of the Premiership table. Even though the season wasn’t going to plan for the Lions so far, a draw over Poole at home, Beaumont Park, in June due to a heat 15 5-1 led by former British Champion Danny King shows the Northern team won’t go down without a fight.

After the British final on Monday 19th June at Belle Vue, a lot of the riders on show on Wednesday would be fresh and raring to go, including Poole’s returnee Paul Starke, who recently had been resigned by Promotor Matt Ford to replace Kyle Newman. Poole’s squad also includes Carl Wilkinson as reserve guest following Monday’s performance, whilst Jason Garrity lines up for the opposition in Number 3 but carrying a small knock from Monday.

In terms of overseas talent, Poole’s Danish Captain Hans Anderson would be looking to lead the Pirates to victory, lining up alongside Australian Jack Holder, brother of Poole hero Chris who moved to Kings Lynn and Poland’s Grzegorz Zengota, signed earlier in the season by Matt Ford to replace the injured Krzysztof Kasprzak. For the opposition, Dane Lasse Bjerre would be looking for a strong ride to assist captain Danny King and British speedway regular Kim Nilsson was in form when the sides last met and could have been a big player at Wimborne Road for the Lions in securing points.

Poole Pirates

Hans Andersen (Capt.), Jack Holder, Brady Kurtz, Paul Starke, Grzegorz Zengota, James Shanes, Carl Wilkinson (Guest)

Leicester Lions

Lasse Bjerre, Jason Garrity, Kim Nilsson, Danny King (Capt.), Erik Riss, Danny Ayres, Josh Bates

Conditions were extremely hot when the riders of the Poole Pirates and the Leicester Lions came to the tapes for heat 1 and before the meeting had started, the Lions were already at a disadvantage, as an announcement was made that Jason Garrity withdrew following injury sustained during British Final. With no time to find a replacement, the Lions executed the rider replacement ruling for the meeting. The opening heat would see the clubs number 1 and 2 riders compete so for the Pirates it was Poland’s Grzegorz Zengota and Jack Holder taking on Kim Nilsson and Erik Riss on a track which had been wetted heavy to try and keep the dust down, which failure quickly in the heat. When the tapes lifted to start the meeting, things were looking good for the Pirates with both Holder and Zengota gating, however by end of lap one the Pole was losing ground on team mate Holder and both Lions riders reduced a 5-1 to a 3-3. The second heat would see the reserve take to the track for the first time and in tackling conditions, the four drew blank to end up with another 3-3 on the cards and keep the scores level after two heats. For the third heat, Pirates returnee Paul Starke got the home crowd going, showing why Matt Ford resigned him. After Erik Riss and Lasse Bjerre set the Lions up for a 5-1, Starke road the outside line to perfection, coming from third to first over three laps, whilst behind Brady Kurtz never gave up to secure advantage for the Pirates by taking Bjerre to give them a 4-2 and lead by 2 points. Heat 4 was the first time the Captains were out on track and after a restart after a crash for Danny Ayres, Danny King and Hans Anderson did battle and it was the Dane who beat his English rival. With Jordan Shanes reduced to third, Poole secured another 4-2 and at the first interval led 14-10.

When the interval concluded, Paul Starke and Brady Kurtz again lit up Poole Stadium, pulling the Pirates further clear of the Lions with a 5-1 in heat 5 over Kim Nilsson and Erik Riss. What made the 5-1 even more impressive for Poole was the ride that Starke produced, again coming from the rear of the field and after 5, the pirates led 19-11. In Heats 6 and 7, Danny King doubled up for the Lions to battle back, but they could only match the Pirates with two 3-3 for the scorecards and then again in Heat 8 with Erik Riss fighting hard for his club and scoring consistently. After trailing 28-20 after eighth, the pairing of Starke and Kurtz yet again combined to pull the Pirates closer to a home victory in heat 9, as Kurtz led home Danny King for a 4-2 and the Pirates now had an advantage of 10 points going into the final 5 heats.

In heat 10 the Pirates certainly showed that the Lions had been tamed in Dorset as a mistake by Lasse Bjerre costed his team heavy, as Zengota and Holder showed class to team ride to a 5-1 leaving Bjerre and Bates to swallow the dust which was seriously lifting as the night went on. Heat 11 would see the Lions select the tactical ride option with Kim Nilsson on duty to try and rescue the meeting for Leicester. With Hans Anderson on fine form though, nothing was stopping the Dane and he rode fantastically to secure another heat win, whilst Erik Riss and Kim Nilsson were forced to watch the Pirates Captain disappear out-front. To secure heat points, Riss allowed Nilsson by on final lap and the Lions took a 3-5 but still trailed 40-28 in four to go. With Leicester still trying to produce a fightback, the appearance of Paul Starke in heat 12 didn’t help matters, as he pulled off a third heat win, but Bates and Bjerre held the margin by coming home second and third. Heat 13 concluded the meeting in theory as Hans Anderson completed his four-ride maximum to again beat former British Champion Danny King, as the score was 46-34 with two to go.

To make matters worse for Leicester, Heat 14 saw yet another 5-1 go in favour of the Pirates, as another error for Bjerre allowed Ipswich regular Carl Wilkinson to join Brady Kurtz up front and going into the final heat, Poole’s advantage was 16 points, as the Pirates led 51-35. For heat 15, Poole selected Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder, whilst the Lions selected their highest scoring riders in Danny King and Erik Riss. In looking to end the meeting on a high, Danny King showed exactly why he is a former British Champion, teaming with Erik Riss to hold off Kurtz and then drop Holder from first to third within a few corners and ride to Lions’ first 5-1 of the meeting. The heat result was only a consolation for Leicester and did reduce the overall margin to 12-points, as the Pirates ended up taking all three points with the final score being 52-40.

Poole Pirates = 52

  1. G Zengota (0,2,3,0) = 5
  2. J Holder (3,1,3,2,1) = 10+2
  3. P Starke (3,2,1,3) = 9+1
  4. B Kurtz (1,3,3,3,0) = 10
  5. H Andersen (3,3,3,3) = 12
  6. C Wilkinson (1,0,0,2) = 3+2
  7. J Shanes (2,1,0,0) = 3

Leicester Lions = 40

  1. K Nilsson (1,1,4,1) = 7+2
  2. E Riss (2,2,0,1,1,3) = 9+2
  3. L Bjerre (0,1,0,2,0) = 3+1
  4. D King (2,3,2,2,2,2) = 13+1
  5. J Bates (3,2,1,1,1) = 8+1
  6. D Ayres (0,FD,FD,0) = 0

Following their away trip defeat at Poole Stadium, the Lions would be heading slightly west to Somerset for a clash with the Rebels on Friday 23rd June, starting at 19:30. At the time of posting this blog, Leicester remained bottom of the table after 13 fixtures on 10 points with the Somerset Rebels only slightly ahead on 13 points and level with the Lions in terms of fixtures. For the Pirates, the next meeting for them would be at home on Monday 26th June against the Belle Vue Aces, which is being shown on BT Sport. In terms of the league, Belle Vue would sit just above the Pirates in third and after playing one fixture more are on 28 points to Poole’s 24.

For more information on both these clubs and the British Speedway Premiership, please visit http://www.speedwaygb.co.uk/

To see all our pictures of the speedway action between the Poole Pirates and the Leicester Lions, please visit our Flickr album page at https://flic.kr/s/aHskYH3sLc.

Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs

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