SWINDON Robins went down without a fight as they crashed out of the Elite League play-offs at the hands of Coventry this evening.
Meek away from the tapes and seemingly unwilling, or unable, to race from the back, the two-legged contest was over after heat 11 as the visitors won 50-45 on the night and 99-86 on aggregate in front of a shocked and silenced Abbey Stadium crowd.
The visitors simply wanted it more, hitting their opposition hard from the start, with Kyle Howarth and guest Max Fricke leading the way for the Bees with 13+1 and 10+1 respectively.
Visiting skipper Chris Harris and former Robins captain Hans Andersen managed just 6+1 and 7+1 respectively, while star reserve Jason Garrity contributed just four, but the performance of their middle order was enough to see them through on a night where it never looked like happening for the Robins.
Peter Kildemand managed 12+1, including two points picked up on a tactical ride, and Troy Batchelor 9+1 for the hosts, but the damage was done in the opening stages of the meeting given the Robins didn’t post a heat advantage in any of the opening four heats.
After extensive work on the starting gates before the start of the meeting, Kildemand made the jump from the outside and pulled over Andersen to win a shared heat one, with Nick Morris trailing out the back.
The night started badly for Nathan Greaves as he slid off in his opening ride, in which Worrall trailed James Sarjeant home as the Bees stretched their advantage to 10, which soon became 14 as Harris and Fricke took a maximum over Batchelor and North.
Howarth jumped to victory out of the tapes, completing a miserable opening four races with a 4-2, which left the hosts 16 down on aggregate and seemingly out of the contest.
The fight back began with a 4-2 as Batchelor led home Fricke and Kildemand in heat five, but was stunted almost as soon as it started thanks to Andersen and Harris’s maximum from the tapes.
With all the talk of Coventry’s use of the tactical ride before the meeting, it was the Robins who found themselves using the black and white helmet on Morris in desperate times. It was partially a success, with Morris taking the win after slips from Garrity and Hansen let him through, but with Worrall having to pick himself up out the dirt at the back they were only able to pull three points back.
Another 5-1 for the Bees came in race eight as the Robins were again meak from the start, before a 4-2 in the second reserves race left the Robins in line for a second tactical. Kildemand took that but couldn’t catch winner Fricke as Morris finished at the back, meaning the race finished 4-4 as the hosts made no ground.
North took ironic cheers as he gated to win heat 11, but with Andersen second ahead of Batchelor the tie was over, as the Bees booked their place in the final with four races remaining.
Howarth won a shared heat 12 before a meaningless maximum from Kildemand and Batchelor raised a few smiles in heat 13, while a Gustafsson led 4-2 in the penultimate race narrowed the gap slightly.
The final race ended in a 3-3, with plenty of fans gone before the final chequered flag came down.
ROBINS: Peter Kildemand (3-1-4^-3-1’) 12+1; Nick Morris (0-6^-0-1’) 7+1; Dakota North (0-1-0-3) 4; Simon Gustafsson (2-0-1-3) 6; Troy Batchelor (1-3-1-2’-2) 9+1; Nathan Greaves (F-R-R) 0; Steve Worrall (2-R-2-2-1) 7.
BEES: Hans Andersen (1’-3-2-0) 6+1; Kyle Howarth (2-3-2’-3-3) 13+1; Max Fricke (2’-2-3-3-0) 10+1; Kenneth Hansen (0-1’-0-2) 3+1; Chris Harris (3-2’-1-1) 7+1; Jason Garrity (1-2-1-F) 4; James Sarjeant (3-1-3-0) 7.