Elite League Grand Final first leg: Swindon Robins 51-44 Poole Pirates
The Poole Pirates must turn around a seven-point deficit if they are to claim their third Elite League title in five years.
The Swindon Robins had the better of the Grand Final first leg at The Abbey Stadium - taking a 51-44 advantage to the second leg at Wimborne Road tomorrow.
It could have been even worse for the Pirates, as they trailed by 18 points after nine heats - only to claw back 11 points in the final six races.
Pirates boss Matt Ford said: "The team are going to need to dig deep on Wednesday and find something special to turn this around.
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"I'm not happy that we allowed ourselves to fall so many points adrift. This is a final and it's about a team, not certain individuals to score all the points.
"We are in it and should want to win it. I want more commitment, more passion and more emotion on Wednesday."
Darcy Ward and Chris Holder turned in impressive performances yet again, but Poole's back markers struggled against a determined Robins roster.
The hosts started on the front foot, and took a ten-point lead after the opening three heats. Heat four was restarted with the race was won by Krzystof Kasprzak for the Pirates, with Kyle Howarth's point helping the Dorset side to cut Swindon's lead.
The Robins continued their dominance and had the Pirates on the ropes after heat eight, as Swindon took a maximum haul, ahead of Kasprzak and Sam Masters.
It took two tactical rides from Pirates manager Neil Middleditch for the visitors to claw their way back into the tie.
Holder edged ahead to take heat 10 for a 6-3 advantage, while Ward made no mistake in heat 12 as nominated rider as the Pirates took a valuable 7-2 score.
Poole's top three of Holder, Ward and Kasprzak reduced the margin to eight points with two heats remaining. The Pirates could have levelled the tie with two maximums in the final two heats, and things looked promising after Sebastian Alden was disqualified in heat 14 after his mistake brought down Kasprzak and Simon Stead.
Poole were unable to get the maximum haul as a shed chain hampered Masters' push for points. However, the Pirates again reduced the Swindon lead by a point.
The Pirates will go into the second leg tomorrow night knowing it will take a big effort to stop Swindon claiming their first league title in 45 years.