PANTHERS 46 POOLE 44

Thursday May 23, 2019
PETERBOROUGH overcame Poole 46-44 in a thrilling Premiership encounter which ranks as the best for many years at the East of England Arena.

The Crendon Panthers got back to winning ways thanks to a 4-2 in an epic last-heat decider with skipper Hans Andersen rolling back the years to take a stunning victory, whilst Charles Wright grabbed a vital third place.

Andersen led from the front throughout in what was a strong all-round performance against a Pirates team with an impressive away record, although recent signing Scott Nicholls was beset by mechanical issues.

There was little between the sides in the first third of the meeting, with just an early trading of 4-2s including an impressive Heat 1 win from Bradley Wilson-Dean, who fended off the challenge of Jack Holder.

Wright took a clear victory in his opening outing, and was then involved in a remarkable Heat 5 dice as both he and Nicholls moved inside Richie Worrall – only for a recovering Holder to then pass Nicholls on the line by a tyre width.

More great action followed as Andersen reeled in and overtook Brady Kurtz in Heat 6, and Panthers notched a big 5-1 in the next with Rohan Tungate storming inside Danny King to join Aaron Summers up-front.

The next three races were shared as a tense contest ensued, with Pirates boss Neil Middleditch introducing Kurtz into Heat 11 as a tactical substitute.

The move worked to perfection as he teamed up with Holder for a 5-1, although not before a major battle with Tungate who split the pairing at one point.

And disaster struck the Panthers in Heat 12 with second-placed Nicholls slowing on the last lap, handing the visitors another 5-1 to go in front for the first time.

But there was high drama in the next with Poole on a potential hat-trick of maximums – until a fierce battle between Andersen and Kurtz ended with the Poole rider hitting the fence on turn three and being disqualified, which also ruled Kurtz out of Heat 15 with a shoulder injury.

Panthers took full advantage of the re-run as Andersen and Tungate both zoomed around Holder on turns three and four for a 5-1 to put them back in front.

Back came Poole with Dimitri Berge and Josh Grajczonek holding a 5-1 of their own in Heat 14, only for Wright to scrape the boards and split them off the final bend.

With the scores level, Holder took the lead in the decider as Panthers gated second and third, before Andersen produced the move of the night to blast round the visiting No.1 off turn four.

But there was still a return challenge from Holder to overcome – and as he did so, Grajczonek reeled in Wright for third place and passed him into the final two bends, only for Wright to respond and storm back through on the inside to end a memorable contest in Panthers’ favour.

Manager Carl Johnson said: “It was a superb meeting, and the boys dug in deep.

“We’ve seen Poole come back at teams, they’re really strong towards the end and to be fair they came at us, but we just got it over the line in the end.

“In Heat 15 I was looking at Hans to keep it tight because Jack was getting closer, and then I saw Josh going around Charles and I thought ‘here we go…’

“Charles realised he needed to do something, and there are a couple of grooves up on the fourth turn. He knew he had to hit them just to give him momentum, and it was just enough to get him to the line.

“Obviously Scott had a couple of issues but we’re not worried about that, and it was good that Josh (Bates) got some track time and scored points. Everybody chipped in, and that’s what we’ve lacked all season.

“There were 15 heats tonight of proper racing, and that’s what this place is all about. I don’t care if we only win by two points as long as the racing is good, as long as the people in the stand go home happy, and they deserve value for their admission.”

Panthers are back in action on Bank Holiday Monday (May 27) when local rivals King’s Lynn visit in another Premiership encounter (5pm).

PETERBOROUGH 46: Hans Andersen 11+1, Charles Wright 10+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 7+1, Rohan Tungate 6+3, Aaron Summers 5, Josh Bates 5, Scott Nicholls 2.
POOLE 44: Jack Holder 10+1, Brady Kurtz 10, Nico Covatti 7+1, Dimitri Berge 7, Josh Grajczonek 6, Danny King 4+2, Richie Worrall 0.

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