Top level league rivalry between these two clubs dates back four decades and close results have always been the rule rather than the exception. The latest chapter in the long running saga featured eighteen energy sapping races on a track made very heavy by another overnight deluge.
Poole were off to the best possible start with a 7-3 from Thomas Reed and Sam Hearn with Ben Mould caught out by the heavy conditions and taking a tumble. Artur Poprawski showed little sign of match rustiness by outpacing the Wheeler/Jewkes pairing in heat 2 with Greg Gluchowski matching Artur in heat 3 ahead of the powerful Griffiths/Aris combination after Lee had won a battle royal with Michel Nowak.
Thomas Reed once again made light of the conditions in the next race as he rounded Ben Mould from gate 4 to lower the colours of his great rival for the second time in the match. Sam Hearn gave the visitors an opportunity to take the lead in heat 5 with a tapes exclusion but Leyton Glover managed to split the Johnson/Haddock combination. Scoreline 25-24.
Then in the very next race, Gavin Wheeler got his marching orders at the start and while Chris Jewkes was at full stretch to hold off Gluchowski in the re-start, Michel Nowak won his first Elite race for his new English club. Reed and Mould were the next two race winners in shared heats but a Jewkes/Draisey 6-4 before the break narrowed the margin to 45-43 at the interval.
Gavin Wheeler got off with a flier in heat 10 to chalk up his first win at the expense of Gluchowski but a clever third from Leyton Glover over Ricki Johnson preserved the two point advantage. Aris outmuscled Poprawski to win the next race and with Griffiths holding on to third over Morgan the scores were back level at 54-54.
Poole replied immediately with a 6-4 of their own from Reed and Glover in heat 12 with Reed picking off Wheeler superbly and Glover cooly holding off Jewkes for a vital third place. Gluchowski sprinted away from gate 1 in heat 13 while Nowak and Mould battled for three laps before the Welshman got the better of his Polish rival for third place. A costly tumble by Griffiths in heat 14 allowed the Poole pairing of Morgan/Sidwick to square the race behind Ricky Johnson. Another Poole 6-4 advantage in heat 15 saw Poprawski turn the tables on Lee Aris after their previous clash and Glover once again chalk up a valuable third place ahead of Draisey. Scoreline 76-72.
With three heats remaining, Wednesfield were looking for something special and they got it in heat 16 when the powerful Mould/Wheeler pairing were too good for Hearn and Nowak and it was all square again at 79-79! With one eye on the line-up for the final race, Poole tracked unbeaten Thomas Reed from gate 1 in the crucial penultimate heat 17 with Aris fancying his chances alongside him on gate 2 knowing that a race advantage would relieve the pressure in a difficult looking heat 18. But it all went wrong for the Aces as Lee Aris moved at the tapes and Morgan teamed up with Reed for a points winning 7-2 and a bonus maximum for the Devon Express. Home captain Gluchowski rounded the match off in style with his third race victory and for the second time this season, title contenders left Harbourside Park empty handed.
Poole 91: Thomas Reed 19+1 Greg Gluchowski 17 Artur Poprawski 15 Arron Morgan 11+1 Michel Nowak 10 Leyton Glover 9+1 Sam Hearn 6+1 Oli Sidwick 4+1
Wednesfield 86: Ben Mould 13+2 Gavin Wheeler 13+1 Chris Jewkes 13 Lee Aris 12+1 Luke Draisey 11+1 Ricki Johnson 11 Matt Haddock 3
Referee - Robin Spicer
Poole 75 (69 + 6 p/pts): Chris Shylock 13+2 Wil Bristowe 12 Shane Bentley 11+1 Aaron Smith 9 Luke Armes 7+1 Dave Oddie 7 Jay Briggs 6 Niall Instone 4+1
Wednesfield 58: Matt Haddock 18 Tom Haddock 10+1 Dave Meanley 9 Harry Everiss 9 Arron O'Brian 6+1 Charlie Ellitts 6+1
Referee - Mike Legge
Horspath 68-57 Leicester
Sheffield 63-66 Ipswich