SWINDON ROBINS: Rossiter warns play-off semi-final is not over yet
ALUN Rossiter insisted the Robins’ Elite League play-off semi-final is far from over despite getting the double figure lead he was after from last night’s first leg clash with Poole.
The reigning league champions were 52-42 winners on the night to give them a healthy advantage going into next Monday’s second leg at Wimborne Road, with Australian Troy Batchelor proving the Robins’ trump card as he thwarted two Pirates tactical rides from Darcy Ward and Greg Hancock.
The Robins flew out the traps and at one stage led by 14 points as they avoided last place in all of the first eight heats, but just as the Pirates reduced the deficit to eight points going into the final heat Batchelor produced a stunning move in the final corner of heat 15 to stretch the lead back to 10.
There was concern over young Australian Nick Morris as he crashed in heat 14 and left the track in an ambulance, but he is thought to have only suffered a concussion and is likely to be fit for the second leg.
Rossiter was proud of what Batchelor, as well as guest Lewis Kerr, produced on the night, but insisted his side can’t afford to take their foot off the gas on the south coast.
“Ten points is a good lead, and although I would like to think we are in control you can’t take things easy and we need to keep on it and make sure we are on it next week,” he said.
“Troy rode a superb race in heat 15, and when he’s in the right form he’s as good as anybody and I’m really chuffed for him, and for Hans to win the last race off gate four is superb.
“Lewis Kerr rode well for us too and I was pleased for him because he doesn’t have much Elite League experience, but all in all we are pleased with how everyone did.
“Nick will be okay I’m sure because he came round pretty quickly, but we will have to keep an eye on him and he won’t be riding at Somerset tonight.”
After Hans Andersen made the gate in heat one GP star Ward found all the speed and charged round the outside to ensure a shared opener, but the Robins were soon in the lead as Kyle Howarth carved his way through both Josh Grajczonek and Micky Dyer to win heat two with Kerr backing him up for a 4-2.
While Peter Kildemand made a great jump in heat three American Hancock was sloppy away from the tapes, and while he had to settle for last Morris charged up the inside of Rohan Tungate to provide the first maximum of the evening.
Maciej Janowski won a shared heat three before Ward took victory in an all square fourth, but the Robins really took control as Edward Kennett made an electric start to win heat five as Andersen did a captain’s job of holding off Janowski for a maximum.
With the Pirates 10 points down Neil Middleditch sent three time world champion Hancock out in black and white, but Batchelor ensured the American wasn’t able to eat into the Robins advantage as he clamped him down in the first corner to take the win. Kerr did his job as he held off Tungate on an evening where he contributed more than most guest reserves this season.
Kennett produced his second heat win of the night in heat eight after getting over everyone in turn one, but Howarth was boxed in and could only come home last.
Morris sliced inside and out of Janowski before winning heat 10 in style with Kildemand third after almost coming to grief in the first corner, and the Robins lead was extended to 14 as Andersen beat Hancock on the back straight with Kennett competitive in third.
Ward came out as the Pirates’ second tactical ride of the night but completely fluffed the start as Batchelor made turn one first, and guest reserve Kerr did a superb job of slowing the GP star up through turn one as the Robins escaped with only a 5-3 deficit which cut their overall lead to 12.
That’s how it remained as Hancock was followed home by Kildemand and Howarth in heat 12, and the Pirates silenced Blunsdon as Ward and Janowski cruised to a classy 5-1 which took a big chunk out of the Robins’ lead.
It looked as if the home side were going to pull another two points clear before Morris hit the fence after chasing Grajczonek too hard when he maybe should have settled for third, and after the Australian left in an ambulance Andersen produced a stunning heat 15 win before Batchelor restored the 10 point lead with a hard move on Janowski in the final corner.
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