TROY Batchelor was not the first heat leader to find the going tough against a star-studded Poole side last night.
Swindon’s charismatic Aussie took on the combined might of Chris Holder, Darcy Ward and Krzysztof Kasprzak at Wimborne Road, and like his team and so many others over the last decade, did not quite have the power to emerge on top.
While the Pirates top three all hit double figures to score 37 points between them in their 49-41 Elite League win, Batchelor had to be content with a haul of six in Dorset while Hans Andersen and Peter Kildemand managed eight apiece.
The Robins’ usually power-packed reserves only managed seven between them, and Batchelor believes a near 40 minute rain delay during the meeting didn’t help their cause.
“We kept it close for a bit and it was a shame about the rain because I couldn’t really find a good setup after that,” he said.
“I started off good with a second and then a win over (Chris) Holder. Then the rain came and I couldn’t get the bike going fast enough after that.
“In the last couple of race the gates went against us, but they are a good team and they have got three top riders and that’s what brought them through.
“They are definitely pretty fast around their own track, I’ve got the speed to beat them, I’ve done it plenty of times. But after the rain I just lost it and couldn’t seem to get it back.
“There’s no complaining from my end and no complaining from the team’s end - we lost it in the last couple of races.”
The meeting was tight from start to finish, took a while to spring into life as Poole provided race winners from the opening five heats, but only managed one heat advantage.
Piotr Pawlicki hit the deck twice in the opening stages as the rain began to fall, and when Ricky Kling spun out of heat seven referee Dan Holt was forced to put on the red lights.
With Kasprzak leading the race was awarded, and soon after racing was suspended for close to 40 minutes as the rain made conditions treacherous.
The break seemed to do the Robins the world of good as Dawid Lampart steamed out of the start to lead down the back straight, and when Nick Morris got his wheels in line he burst through both Sam Masters and Linus Eklof to lead his Polish partner to the first 5-1 of the night.
But the home side hit back immediately as Ward and Pawlicki won from the gate ahead of the lacklustre Batchelor and Simon Stead, and they backed the 5-1 up with another heat advantage in race 10 as Holder beat Kildemand, while Jason Doyle struggled at the back behind Masters.
Just as the Pirates looked to be edging ahead Andersen leapt out the gate to win heat 11, and youngster Morris rode a superb line to keep Kasprzak at bay for four laps as the Robins secured a 5-1 to level up at 33-33. Things remained tied after Kildemand and Lampart trailed in behind the imperious Ward for another 3-3, but the power-packed duo of Holder and Kasprzak left the Robins pairing of Andersen and Batchelor eating dust as they secured a vital 5-1.
Pawlicki showed no ill effects from his earlier two spills as he produced the performance of the night in the penultimate heat, as he battled his way past both Lampart and Doyle with the Robins on a 5-1.
The teenage Pole never looked like giving up, and after trying his luck both inside and out, he sliced his way between the two Robins to take an impressive heat victory.
The Robins needed to avoid being on the wrong end of a 5-1 in the final race to leave Wimborne Road with anything to show for their efforts, but Ward and Holder combined as only they know how to kill the contest in the first bend and secure maximum points for their side.