COVENTRY saw their unbeaten start to the Elite League season ended by a 41-48 home defeat to great rivals Poole in an incident-strewn and controversial meeting at Brandon.
Clashes between the Buildbase Bees and the Pirates are rarely quiet affairs and this one had just about everything, but the bottom line was that the visitors took control in the early stages and left Coventry playing catch-up all night.
Three 5-1s in the first four races enabled Poole to race into an 18-6 lead, and although Bees battled back strongly they were to be foiled by a combination of circumstances every time they threatened to make serious ground back.
The Bees’ big guns all found themselves on the receiving end in the first four races with Hans Andersen forced wide by Chris Holder in Heat 1, and Chris Harris earning a disqualification in Heat 3 as he was adjudged to have brought down Maciej Janowski going into the final bend.
The Pole only took one more ride due to a knee injury, whilst for Bees No.1 Andersen it was the start of a night where everything that could go wrong did exactly that.
Trailing 9-21, Bees secured a surprise 5-1 from Danny King and Joonas Kylmakorpi over Holder in Heat 6, with Janowski retiring, and they added a 4-2 in the next although Andersen was frustrated after gating but then going wide on turn two, enabling Kacper Gomolski to split the Coventry duo.
James Sarjeant then nearly made it around the field on the first lap of Heat 8 but ended up hooking into team-mate Joonas Kylmakorpi going into turn three, resulting in both Bees riders going down. With Sarjeant disqualified, the re-run saw Kylmakorpi produced a spectacular fence-scraping effort to pass Kyle Newman for the lead.
Newman held a thrusting Jason Garrity at bay throughout Heat 9 as Gomolski crashed out on turn two, and Poole edged their lead back up to eight in the next with Harris working hard to split Schlein and Holder – Schlein’s guest booking for second-string rider Josh Grajczonek proving significant as expected.
Disaster struck Coventry in Heat 11 with Dakota North getting the best of a very ragged start and clamping down Andersen to enable Schlein to find a way through for a 5-1 – and if Bees needed confirmation that it wasn’t their night, the next two races summed things up completely.
Sarjeant rounded Newman to lead Heat 12 with Garrity attempting to join him, and having made what appeared a clean pass on the Poole reserve, Newman fell on the third bend, bringing Sarjeant down with him, and Garrity was harshly disqualified.
After his two crashes, Sarjeant rode superbly in the re-run to defeat Newman, and there then followed a kamikaze Heat 13 where Holder fell on the second lap, and Andersen then broke down when holding a clear lead, before Harris finally made up enormous ground to reel in and pass North on the line.
Bees fought on with King and Kylmakorpi getting the better of North in a competitive Heat 14, leaving the Pirates needing to share the final race to take all four points from the meeting.
They had a helping hand in that when Harris suffered engine trouble at the start and was forced to go back off 15-metres, and the Bees captain again made up ground to pass Schlein but the end of the race came just too soon to catch North.
Harris said: “It’s always disappointing to lose at home, especially to the Pirates, but they were making quicker starts than us and the first four heats was where it was lost.
“The decisions didn’t go our way either but we’ll bounce back, these things happen and it’s still early on in the season.
“It would have been nice to get the win but it wasn’t to be, so we’ll have to go down there next week and turn them over on their home track.”
BUILDBASE BEES 41: Chris Harris 10, Joonas Kylmakorpi 9+3, Danny King 7, Jason Garrity 5+1, Cameron Heeps 4+1, James Sarjeant 4+1, Hans Andersen 2. POOLE 48: Kyle Newman 12+1, Dakota North 12, Rory Schlein 11+3, Chris Holder 5, Kacper Gomolski 5, Maciej Janowski 2+1, Stefan Nielsen 1+1.
BUILDBASE BEES 41 Hans Andersen 1 1 0 R = 2 Cameron Heeps 0 2 1* 1 = 4+1 Danny King 1 3 0 3 = 7 Joonas Kylmakorpi 1 2* 3 2* 1* = 9+3 Chris Harris X 3 2 3 2 = 10 Jason Garrity 2 1* 2 X = 5+1 James Sarjeant 1* 0 X 3 = 4+1
POOLE 48 Chris Holder 3 1 1 F = 5 Rory Schlein 2* 3 1* 3 2* 0 = 11+3 Dakota North 3 F 3 2 1 3 = 12 Kacper Gomolski 3 2 F 0 = 5 Maciej Janowski 2* R = 2+1 Stefan Nielsen 0 0 1* =1+1 Kyle Newman 3 2* 2 3 2 = 12+1