Muddy hell Eagles crash out of Knockout Cup after semi-final nightmare

Eagles v Poole
Eagles v Poole

Riding high, on the crest of a wave and with an Elite League Knockout Cup Final slot within their sights, the Eagles were brought crashing down to earth by a resurgent Poole Pirates.

This visitors defied all the odds, progressing through to the final two, courtesy of a convincing 51-39 margin at Arlington stadium on Saturday evening.

Having finished with just three fit riders and bringing to Sussex a slender two-point lead to defend following Wednesday’s Semi-Final first leg at Wimborne Road, many had effectively written off the Pirates chances - particularly with Eastbourne so dominant around their home shale of late and considering that the Pirates had made the journey sporting a side patched up with guests.

Well it just goes to prove how unpredictable the sport of speedway can be.

The Dorset outfit made light of the rain affected conditions, Australian duo Chris Holder and Darcy Ward remaining unbeaten by a home rider.

Each suffered defeat in their respective first outings and aided by a couple of effective guest showings from Ben Barker and Jesper B. Monberg in addition to a stunning Pirates (and Arlington) debut from reserve Kevin Wolbert, they were destined to turn in a performance that would break home fans hearts.

On the Eagles side of the coin, in contrast to previous weeks when there had been much to celebrate, on this occasion there was little to enthuse over, save for a first race 5-1 for Bjarne Pedersen and top scorer Simon Gustafsson.

That appeared to get them off on the right track, and the news filtering through from France that home hero Joonas Kylmakorpi had indeed retained his World Long Track title in the final round of the competition.

Prior to the start, much of the talk amongst the Arlington faithful surrounded the combined possibility of a Knockout Cup Final appearance along with the chances of a further match up against the Pirates in the forthcoming Play off Final.

The match began much in accordance with such hopes but it quickly became apparent that the Pirates certainly didn’t intend to give in to their supposed frailties on the injury front.

A third race 4-2 and a brace of 5-1’s for the visitors in heats 6 and 7 propelling them into a 6-point (24-18) lead on the night and an 8-point aggregate advantage and serving notice to the Sussex side that they had it all to do.

Maximum victories from Gustafsson and Cameron Woodward in race eight and again from Pedersen and Gustafsson in the tenth instilled fresh hope but the Eagles could not claw their way back and it the Pirates who take the the final spot against either Lakeside or Belle Vue.