COVENTRY laid down another statement of intent for the season with a brilliant performance to win 50-41 at defending Elite League champions Poole on Wednesday.
It was the Buildbase Bees’ second maximum-point success in two away matches so far, and provided an immediate response to the Pirates’ own win at Brandon last week, whilst taking them level on points at the top of the table.
Bees produced a terrific all-round display in another epic battle between the two great rivals, prevailing despite again appearing to be on the wrong end of decisions with Jason Garrity particularly unfortunate.
Their top-two spearhead were in full effect, and there were solid middle-order contributions – including a marvellous guest showing from Kevin Doolan with paid-ten – whilst James Sarjeant yet again made a mockery of his current ranking on the Tier 2 Elite Draft list of reserves.
Doolan combined with Hans Andersen for an immediate 5-1 in Heat 1 leaving former World Champion Chris Holder trailing, and Sarjeant took a win over Kyle Newman in Heat 2 after Garrity had been disqualified for a first-bend fall.
Another Bees 5-1 followed from Chris Harris and Danny King in Heat 3, with the Pirates fortunate to respond in the next when Joonas Kylmakorpi fell on the last lap whilst chasing Newman.
But Bees were quickly back into their stride with Garrity taking the scalp of Josh Grajczonek in Heat 5 as Doolan won once again, and a 4-2 in Heat 6 put them ten points to the good with Harris just missing out to Kacper Gomolski in a tight battle for second place which went right to the wire.
That left the Pirates playing a tactical ride with Holder in Heat 7, and their hopes of a 5-1 were raised when the Australian gated with guest Richard Lawson – but King tenaciously battled through to split the pairing, with crucially Holder in third place as the home side were restricted to a 5-2.
The middle stages of the meeting saw Bees defending resolutely as the Pirates chipped away at the lead with a run of five successive heat wins, Dakota North producing a good ride to pass Andersen in Heat 10 after Lawson had fallen on the first bend.
The gap was down to three ahead of Heat 12 when Newman’s inside move on the exit of turn two led to a heavy three-rider pile-up down the back straight, from which Garrity was controversially disqualified much to the displeasure of the Bees management and supporters.
Sarjeant split the home riders in the re-run with Paul Starke pushing home after falling on the last lap, and that cut the margin to just a single point.
But it was the Bees who conjured the big finish as Harris and Andersen dominated Heat 13 over Holder and Lawson, and their victory was safe when North fell in Heat 14 whilst Coventry held the advantage – with the re-run going completely their way as King and Kylmakorpi saw off Gomolski for a second successive 5-1.
There was still the extra league point to go for, with Bees needing to avoid conceding a 5-1 in Heat 15, and Andersen and Harris were more than up for that task as they closed out North for a 3-3 as Holder took the win.
Bees boss Gary Havelock said: “When I talk about team spirit, these are the type of occasions where it comes into play – tight, hard away matches when there are crashes, and there’s no doubt that team spirit won us this meeting.
“Kevin Doolan popping out of the start in Heat 1 and winning it with Hans for a 5-1 just set us up, and that makes the home team think ‘we’re in for a tough night tonight.’ We laid a marker down straightaway, and the boys were just sensational, every one of them.
“The referee seemed to carry on from where Friday’s left off – I would like to see the video, because how on earth he excluded Jason twice was beyond belief.
“But that’s what I call justice. The reason we won this was because of what happened on Friday, because of the incidents on the night on the track. All of our riders dug deep, and if we keep this sprit and stay injury-free we’ll give anyone a match on any track.”
POOLE 41: Chris Holder 9, Kacper Gomolski 8+1, Kyle Newman 8+1, Josh Grajczonek 6, Richard Lawson 4, Dakota North 3, Paul Starke 3. BUILDBASE BEES 50: Hans Andersen 11+2, Chris Harris 10+1, Kevin Doolan 8+2, Danny King 7+1, James Sarjeant 6, Joonas Kylmakorpi 4+1, Jason Garrity 4+1.
POOLE 41 Chris Holder 0 2^ 3 1 3 = 9 Josh Grajczonek 1 1 3 1 = 6 Dakota North F 0 3 X 0 = 3 Kacper Gomolski 2* 2 3 1 = 8+1 Richard Lawson 1 3 X 0 = 4 Paul Starke 2 0 1 = 3 Kyle Newman 1* 3 0 1 3 = 8+1
BUILDBASE BEES 50 Hans Andersen 2* 2 3 2* 2 = 11+2 Kevin Doolan 3 3 1* 1* = 8+2 Danny King 2* 2 0 3 = 7+1 Joonas Kylmakorpi F R 2 2* = 4+1 Chris Harris 3 1 2 3 1* = 10+1 Jason Garrity X 2* 2 X = 4+1 James Sarjeant 3 1 0 2 = 6