A GRAND opening for a grand meeting – it had just about everything bosses at Swindon Speedway could wish for.

A last heat decider, edge of your seat racing and a touch of controversy that perhaps denied Alun Rossiter’s Robins a win as they started their Supporters’ Cup campaign against Poole Pirates with a 45-45 draw on the new Abbey Stadium track.

Taking the meeting to heat 15 was an achievement itself, particularly given the hosts trailed by eight points with only six heats remaining.

Requiring a 5-1 in the final race to poach a 46-44 win, for a few seconds it looked like the Robins were about to write the first piece of remarkable history on their new circuit.

Adam Ellis led, and never looked back – recording a tapes to flag win. But Australian Troy Batchelor first picked off Nicolai Klindt before turning his focus to Josh Grajczonek.

In a thrilling battle of the Aussies, Batchelor cut underneath his opposite number exiting turn two before diving underneath the Pirates’ heat leader into turn three.

But he ran too wide into four, and Grajczonek smartly cut back to pinch second on the line and end the first meeting of the season 45-45.

Jason Doyle’s efforts must be applauded. The skipper recorded 12 points out of 12 in his opening four rides, before an exclusion in heat 14 brought a premature end to his evening.

Tobiasz Musielak and Adam Ellis also registered double figure returns with 9+1 and 8+2 respectively.

However, Musielak’s inexplicable error in heat three will be a moment Rossiter will look back on with a sour taste in his mouth.

The Pole comfortably led the race, but placed both wheels over the white line exiting turn four and gifted Pirates a 5-1.

Reserves Zach Wajknecht and James Shanes did struggle, scoring two points between them, while Dawid Lampart also didn’t reach the height fans might have hoped for – scoring a hard-earned two points from four rides.

In saying that, he can consider himself a touch unfortunate. He was excluded for a first bend incident in heat one, and was also called out by the referee Dave Robinson after taking evasive action to avoid an out-of-control Josh Grajczonek in heat eight.

But the biggest ‘three cheers’ of the night must go to Ronnie Russell. The chief track man has worked relentlessly – 5am until 10pm everyday – for the past month.

Though he admitted with a quiet smile after heat 15 that he will enjoy a day off on Easter Friday.

Rossiter said after the meeting he had no faults with his side’s performance, and he sang the praises of Ronnie and Terry Russell. Rossiter: “I can’t fault the boys, they dug in.

“There was a bit of negativity before today because things (the track) weren’t right.

“But I’ve got to tip my hat to Ronnie (Russell), I didn’t think he could pull it off but he did. The big boss (Terry Russell) came down to crack some whips, and I think he should take some credit too.

“Terry has been out there driving the tractor for the last few days to make sure everything is right.

“We said from day one we didn’t want problems – last week for Belle Vue’s visit was too early. We didn’t want to put the riders through it and start on a negative.

“It will get better, and everyone saw the racing was good. Dawid (Lampart) struggled, but he had two passes from the back for two points – they were two good points.

“It’s a draw, though it feels like a defeat after the decisions that went against us.”

There is little time to reflect on a sensational night of racing at the Abbey though.

Robins return to action this morning (11am) in the return fixture at Wimborne Road.

And Rossiter is keen to make a mark against the Pirates after feeling hard done by last night.

He said: "My top five are on fire at the moment.

“I’m confident for our visit to Poole.”