SWINDON booked their place in the SGB Premiership Grand Final with a 51-38 win over Poole at the Abbey on Monday.
The Robins emerged victorious from a nervous second leg as their aggregate lead was down to a single point with four races to go.
The Pirates had notched a 5-0 in Heat 11 when Swindon duo Nick Morris and Liam Carr both fell, which put them 33-32 up on the night.
But the hosts responded with three 5-1s and a 4-2 to sail through by a 15-point aggregate margin – although they have a concern over Adam Ellis with a wrist injury after a Heat 8 crash.
Bradley Wilson-Dean was the Robins’ hero with 13+2 from six rides at reserve, whilst Morris added 11 and Tobiasz Musielak 9+1, whilst Hans Andersen top-scored for the Pirates with 11.
Swindon boss Alun Rossiter said: “It’s a great achievement, we had a few heart-stopping moments but we haven’t crumbled all year and I always felt we would come strong in the end.
“It’s a big achievement for us to get to the Final, especially because at the start of the year my hands were that tied and we were always one rider short. But when we found Tobi, it really turned our reason around.
“This result means a lot to me, and the team as a whole. I was pretty devastated after Friday (in the KO Cup), I make no bones about that – we should really have been in two Finals, but this is the main one, and hopefully it will be our year again.”
Poole promoter Matt Ford said. “We couldn't quite see the tie through after keeping it alive for so long. We were not as good as we could have been and we let it slip away rapidly in the end.
“But considering where we were a couple of months back, we did well to even get in to the play-offs. Reaching the Final would have been a dream but it wasn't to be, and so now we have to look to next year to be better and stronger.”
WOLVERHAMPTON established a 13-point lead over Belle Vue in the first leg of their play-off semi-final at Monmore on Monday.
The hosts won 51-38 after an incident-strewn meeting and they have major concerns over Swedish star Jacob Thorssell, who was involved in a crash with the Aces’ Rohan Tungate in Heat 14.
Home skipper Fredrik Lindgren carded a five-ride paid maximum (14+1) with Rory Schelin offering fine backing on 12, and the duo combined for a last-heat 5-1 to take the lead back into double figures following an Aces comeback.
Max Fricke notched 10 for the visitors, who were beset by a number of crashes throughout the match and now face another comeback bid at the National Speedway Stadium on Wednesday.
Wolves boss Peter Adams said: “If somebody had offered us a 13-point lead at 7:29pm this evening we'd have taken that for sure.
“But we were in a much better position at one point where it could have so easily have been even more than that. But credit to Belle Vue for putting up a bit of a fight and they made it difficult for us.
“We lost Jacob in Heat 14 which was a blow for us. He's complaining of pain and discomfort in his lower back and he's struggling to breathe as well. He's gone to hospital for x-rays and we'll have to wait and see the outcome of that.”
Belle Vue boss Mark Lemon said: “Considering the circumstances, and the evening we’ve had in general, we can’t be too dissatisfied with the overall result.
“It was tough night, but full credit to the guys. Their heads never dropped, and it isn't an impossible margin to recover; especially if Friday’s result against Swindon in the KOC is anything to go by.
“We’ve just got to keep the pressure on. We knew Wolverhampton would be strong at home so tonight’s result isn’t entirely unexpected, and we’re only half done so there’s still lots to play for.”
GLASGOW boss Stewart Dickson says his side owe it to their fans to “give it a go” in their SGB Championship play-off at Ashfield tonight (Tuesday).
The hosts face a huge 28-point deficit in the second leg semi-final tie with Sheffield following a heavy defeat at Owlerton last week.
Dickson has called up James Sarjeant as a guest at No.6 again, following his outstanding performance in the first leg, while either Jack Smith - if he's fit - or Alfie Bowtell will ride at No.7.
Dickson said: “I've always said we are all together as a team, but I need to see signs that they riders want it as much as I want it and the owners want it.
“I need to see that and I need to make sure the rest of the season doesn't fade away. We are the underdogs, but it's not quite done yet, and if you say it quickly, it sounds good: 15 4-2s to us and we're through 60-30.
“Until it's mathematically impossible we're going to have to give it a go. We owe it to our supporters, we have to have a go. I'm under no illusions, but we need to get a win first and foremost - and try to get a couple of the boys firing again.”
Sheffield star Josh Bates said: “Hopefully a 28-point lead will be enough for us and while it’s easy to say we want to defend that, we actually want to go to Glasgow and win on the night as well.
“We did that with only half a team a few weeks ago so now we’re at full strength, I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it again.
“I can’t stop thinking about us winning the league, but it’s hard because there’s still a lot of hard work to be done yet.
“We can’t even think about racing against Ipswich in the Final until we’ve made sure we’ve got the job done against Glasgow.”
PETERBOROUGH captain Ulrich Ostergaard is keen to see his side extend their winning run to four matches when they host Scunthorpe tonight (Tuesday).
Neither side have been in the race for SGB Championship honours, but they do meet again on Friday in the second leg of a KO Cup tie at the Eddie Wright Raceway.
And Ostergaard says the Panthers want to keep their momentum going as they bid to add to their Fours success from last month.
He said: “We are all disappointed not to have made the play-offs this year. The top four is where we wanted to be, but it just hasn't happened for us.
“That doesn't mean we are just going to sit back and go through the motions until the end of the season. Far from it. Every race in every meeting still matters to every rider. We all want to score as many points as we can and try to keep the good run going.
“We've got three home meetings left in the league and hopefully we can win them all. We're sixth now in the table and we want to get ourselves up into fifth. That's the goal in the league and we're also going to do all we can to pick up another trophy to add to the Fours.”
Scunthorpe promoter Rob Godfrey said: “The meeting at Peterborough is of no importance when it comes to the final league table. We’re simply racing for pride on that score.
“However, if we can put in a decent performance tonight, we can perhaps shake Peterborough’s confidence ahead of Friday, when the two clubs meet at the Eddie Wright Raceway in a far more vital Knockout Cup clash.”
STOKE’S Luke Priest has confirmed his season is over after his crash with Mildenhall’s Connor Mountain on Saturday.
Priest was kept in the Royal Stoke Hospital overnight and was released on Sunday afternoon with a dislocated shoulder and a fractured humerus. Mountain, meanwhile, suffered shoulder ligament damage.
Priest said: “It’s not been a very good year at all and Saturday night summed everything up. I had my race suit cut off and I’ve smashed my bike up, but on the positive side I’m in one piece and am now at home.
“I’d like to thank supporters far and wide for their best wishes and for the many messages that I have received through social media. It has absolutely blown me away by how supporters come together and I look forward to seeing everyone soon.”
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 26:
SGB CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL 2nd leg: Glasgow v Sheffield 7.30
SGB CHAMPIONSHIP: Peterborough v Scunthorpe 7.30
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 27:
SGB PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL 2nd leg: Belle Vue v Wolverhampton 7.30
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Cradley v Eastbourne (at Birmingham) 7.30
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 28:
CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND FINAL 1st leg: Sheffield v Ipswich 7.30 (subject to progression) OR
SGB CHAMPIONSHIP: Sheffield v Redcar 7.30
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29:
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP 2nd leg: Scunthorpe v Peterborough 7.30
NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAY-OFF S/F 1st leg: Lakeside v Belle Vue 8pm
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP S/F 1st leg: Plymouth v Eastbourne 7.15
Results Monday September 25, 2017
SGB PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL, 1st leg
Wolverhampton 51 (Freddie Lindgren 14+1)
Belle Vue 38 (Max Fricke 10)
SGB PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL, 2nd leg
Swindon 51 (Bradley Wilson-Dean 13+2)
Poole 38 (Hans Andersen 11)
Swindon win 97-82 on aggregate.