THE Buildbase Bees have enjoyed some epic tussles with Poole so far this season - and there will need to be one more if they are to reach the Knockout Cup Final.
One reminder of the outcome of the Craven Shield semi-final four months ago should be enough evidence that this tie is not over yet, but the Pirates have clearly put themselves in the driving seat by racking up a 20-point advantage from their home leg.
It was all so different to the first staging of the tie last month when Poole appeared ill at ease on their own circuit, in alien conditions after pre-meeting rain.
On this occasion, the Pirates riders got exactly what they were expecting, and the Buildbase Bees found themselves outgated too often to make a serious impact.
Skipper Chris Harris won his first three rides and Hans Andersen his last three, and the reserves were worth more points for effort - but Bees simply gave the Pirates too much of a start, both in individual races and in the meeting as a whole.
That said, Poole will be aware too of what happened in the Craven Shield and Bees must make the most of their own home advantage when a date is agreed for the second leg.
Certainly, Andersen finishing third in Heat 1 wasn't part of their opening script, but with the Pirates taking gates one and three the Dane found himself taken wide on the first bend and Chris Holder and Magnus Zetterstrom raced away for maximum points in the opening race.
Heat 2 could have ended in a similar outcome with Daniel Davidsson setting himself up for another good night against the Bees, but fortunately Ben Barker came through after a battle for second place with Freddie Eriksson to prevent another 5-1.
Harris, who started the meeting in blistering form, became the Bees' first race winner with their first good start of the meeting as the Pirates duo got the better of Billy Janniro in the early stages of Heat 3, and the early momentum continued to be in Poole's favour when Davidsson and Davey Watt out-gated Olly Allen and charged away with Heat 4 to put the home side a massive ten points up.
Bees immediately tried to respond by handing Andersen the black and white helmet colour in Heat 5, but the move was not totally successful as he was unable, despite his best efforts, to find a way past fellow countryman Bjarne Pedersen and Bees had to settle for a 4-4 from the race.
And they were destined to drop further behind in Heat 6 with Barker crashing out on the fourth bend whilst the Pirates held a 5-1 position, and in the re-run Zetterstrom edged out Allen on turn two to team up with Holder once more.
Bees simply had to peg back such a disappointing early deficit, and they finally got some joy in Heat 7 as, for the first time, they had two riders right in contention in the so-important first two turns. In the event, Harris accounted for Watt to make life somewhat easier for Janniro, and the Bees had four points back after holding off Watt's return challenge.
Heat 8 was the classic case of two races for the price of one as Harris took the rider replacement outing and finally surged around Zetterstrom after three laps for his third straight win - but it wasn't entirely good news because, just before that, Davidsson had managed to line up and overtake Filip Sitera for third place.
Heat 9 saw Allen fall in unusual circumstances on the second bend as he struggled for balance - the legacy of a possible ear infection from a recent flight - and that ended his involvement for the evening, Pedersen and Adam Skornicki taking a 5-1 in the re-run despite the efforts of the ever-trying Barker.
Harris was finally beaten for the first time in Heat 10 - a race which took four attempts to start after a succession of problems on the first turn which included Holder and Zetterstrom both going down in separate incidents.
When they finally got away cleanly, Harris was caught out expecting to find Janniro on his inside, only for it to be Holder with the young Australian needing no second invitation to take the lead.
Bees therefore found themselves 39-23 down and hoping that Andersen could dominate the closing stages and that Harris could keep things going too, because their prospects for heat advantages prior to Heat 15 were bleak.
They were without Allen, who was unable to take his rider replacement outing in Heat 11, and the facility overall provided just three points which was no replacement whatsoever for the injured Simon Stead.
Andersen duly won Heat 11 from Watt and Eriksson, who got some revenge over Barker, and a run of shared races continued after the interval with Pedersen just holding off Harris who gained ground as the race wore on, but Barker having the edge over Davidsson before the Swede fell.
Heat 13 saw Andersen in determined mood on the first and second bends to ensure that Holder would not find a way through, and that again kept the gap pegged at 16 points.
However, it became 20 in a Heat 14 which could under different circumstances have gone Bees' way as they made their last throw of the dice with Harris on a tactical substitute ride. Unfortunately, Janniro was unable to hit the front and slow the Pirates pairing, and although he cleared the way for Harris to move into third place, even the Bees skipper found overtaking the most difficult of tasks as Davidsson and Skornicki held on for the home side.
At least Bees' deficit was not destined to quite reach the Craven Shield margin, and that was courtesy of a terrific ride in Heat 15 by Andersen, who was out-gated by Pedersen but found grip where few others had managed it with an inside move on turn four, completing the pass at the start of the second lap. Carburettor problems, however, did for Harris's chances at the end of a night where he had taken seven rides and ten starts!
Sadly for the Bees, the final result was entirely consistent with Poole's current form at Wimborne Road, the form which makes them clear title favourites, and their lack of last places was a strength that Coventry know only too well from last year.
However, the second leg is a different meeting altogether and there is no doubt that Bees will go into it as underdogs - but fired up to again put the pressure on the Pirates and see where that takes them to maintain their hold on the Cup.
POOLE 56 Chris Holder 3 3 3 2 2 = 13 Magnus Zetterstrom 2* 2* 2 1 = 7+2 Bjarne Pedersen 2 3 3 3 1* = 12+1 Adam Skornicki 1* 1 2* 2* = 7+3 Davey Watt 3 1 2 1* = 7+1 Freddie Eriksson 1 0 1* = 2+1 Daniel Davidsson 3 2* 1* F 3 = 9+2
BUILDBASE BEES 36 Hans Andersen 1 4^ 3 3 3 = 14 Simon Stead Rider Replacement Chris Harris 3 3 3 2 2 1# R = 14 Billy Janniro 0 0 2* 0 0 = 2+1 Olly Allen 1 1 X = 2 Ben Barker 0 2 X 1 0 1* = 4+1 Filip Sitera 0 0 0 0 = 0