Hammers keep play-off hopes alive
- Credit: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO
Elite League: Lakeside Hammers 35 Poole Pirates 26
Lakeside Hammers kept alive their feint hopes of an Elite League play-off spot with a maximum-point win over Poole in a rain-affected meeting in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
A heavy downpour during heat seven led to a lengthy delay, but both sides battled on in tough conditions, only to agree to call it a day after heat 10, which was enough to ensure the result stands.
Fresh from the bitter disappointment of last week’s 56-39 home reverse against play-off contenders Coventry Bees, the Hammers started strongly.
Kim Nilsson was comfortable in front, and home skipper Davey Watt managed to find a way past Aussie compatriot Dakota North on lap three for an opening heat maximum.
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Poole pegged them back immediately though as Kyle Newman got the better of Adam Ellis, while Ben Morley was held by Benji Compton.
Danny King picked up his first home win as a Hammer in heat three for a shared heat, before Lewis Bridger showed what he is capable of with a fine overtake of North to take the chequered flag.
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It was a fine start in heat five as the experienced duo of Watt and King were in front by the end of the first lap, with the latter holding off the challenge of Josh Grajczonek to move 18-12 in front.
Bridger took the victory again in heat six but it was much tougher for team-mate Lawson who exchanged places at the back with Bjarne Pedersen and eventually got the better of him for a home 4-2.
The rain, which had been falling lightly up until the start of heat seven, then took a turn for the worse.
Ellis fell under the difficult conditions and the deluge forced a long delay.
Track conditions were not great, but both sides battled on and Nilsson got the better of Grajczonek after Benji Compton fell.
Bridger produced the ride of the night to pass North in heat eight, taking off his goggles due to the poor visibility before passing the Aussie to secure a home 5-1 behind Lawson, who took a tumble after the chequered flag.
Only two finished heat nine, after Compton fell and was excluded and Ellis fell in the re-run as Newman saw off Morley for a 3-2 to leave the Hammers leading 32-20.
In heat 10 the Pirates tried their luck with a tactical ride from Maciej Janowski.
The Pole did the trick as he took the heat win, but team-mate Vaclav Milik suffered problems from the off as the Hammers duo of Watt and Nilsson packed in for the minor placings.
All the riders came out for heat 11, but unbeknown to them, a decision had been made by both sides to call it a night.
Despite the early abandonment the Hammers still picked up all three points necessary to keep them in the play-off hunt, but there’s still the feeling that it may all be in vain.
Lakeside Hammers 35: Watt 6+2 (from three rides), Nilsson 8 (3), Lawson 4 (3), Bridger 8+1 (3), King 5+1 (2), Morley 2 (3), Ellis 2 (3)
Poole Pirates 26: Pedersen 0 (2), North 4 (3), Milik 1+1 (4), Grajczonek 3 (2), Janowski 10 (3), Compton 1 (3), Newman 7+1 (3).