Fired up Pirates blast past Tigers to take 30-point lead into second leg

Richard Lawson (left) and Zach Cook (right) led the way for Pirates, both riders dropping just one point apiece (Picture: Richard Crease)
Richard Lawson (left) and Zach Cook (right) led the way for Pirates, both riders dropping just one point apiece (Picture: Richard Crease)

PIRATES romped to first-leg victory in the play-off semi-finals, seeing off Glasgow Tigers 60-30 to effectively place one foot in the grand final.

Cowra-born speedster Zach Cook contributed 13 points, dropping just one point all evening, whilst his brother Ben picked up a paid maximum following two second place finishes and two race wins.

Richard Lawson's perfect record fell in heat 15, instead having to settle for 14 points.

Originally slated to be the second leg of the semi-final, Sunday’s controversial call-off in Scotland saw the home meeting become the first leg.

Pirates got off to a flyer as Ben Cook backed up Danny King’s race win, seeing off competition from Ben Basso to ensure the maximum.

An unsatisfactory start was called after Nathan Ablitt slipped heading into the first bend, with Broc Nicol warned as all four riders were allowed to return for the re-run.

Ablitt dusted himself down to edge past Paul Starke despite bike troubles, sending Pirates into an early 10-2 lead with Zach Cook taking race number two.

The hosts were unable to stretch their lead further in the third heat, with Steve Worrall’s race win tempered by Nicol and Craig Cook taking second and third respectively, shunting Drew Kemp to last.

Both sides were equal again in the fourth race, with Lawson opening his account for the evening by coming first ahead of Tom Brennan and Connor Bailey.

Worrall returned to cancel out Basso and Nicol in heat five, before King and Ben Cook combined again for Pirates’ third 5-1 of the evening in race six.

Lawson and Zach Cook continued Pirates’ dominance, another maximum stretching the lead to 29-13.

The Cook Brothers were uncatchable in heat eight, Ben Cook leading his sibling Zach to the fifth 5-1 of the evening.

Heat nine saw Starke claim a first Tiger race win of the evening, but he was unable to cut into the 20-point deficit as Worrall and Zach Cook claimed second and third respectively.

In race 10, Nicol was replaced by Bailey after causing a second unsatisfactory start. Ben Cook was forced to go alone when King retired early in the re-run, splitting another 3-3 with the Lions.

Lawson and Zach Cook ensured Pirates would not be caught on the night, widening the margin to 24 points in heat 11.

The lead remained the same when Pirates number three Worrall picked up a second heat win of the night, beating Craig Cook and Bailey in the sixth tied race of the meeting.

With the second leg of the meeting now in view, Pirates looked to take full advantage of their fine form, Lawson and King piling on one more maximum.

Zach Cook rounded off his evening with a race win, whilst Kemp ended his drought to complete yet another 5-1.

The evening ended with the Tigers finally claiming an overall heat win, Craig Cook denying Lawson a clean sweep of five heat wins, with former Pirate Basso keeping out Worrall for a 4-2 win.

Pirates now travel to Scotland again this weekend for the return leg.

POOLE 60 - Danny King 8+1 Ben Cook 10+2 Steve Worrall 11 Drew Kemp 2+1 Richard Lawson 14 Zach Cook 13+4 Nathan Ablitt 2+1

GLASGOW 30 - Ben Basso 6 Craig Cook 9+1 Broc Nicol 3+1 Tom Brennan 4 Paul Starke 5 Connor Bailey 3+3