MATCH REPORT: Great Britain fight back to defeat Poland

Team GB gave a solid all-round performance, to defeat World Champions Poland, in a thrilling floodlit test match at Poole on Thursday evening.

Poland were missing World Champion Marcin Szymanski but replaced him with sensational World Junior Champion Bartek Grabowski, who was unbeaten in all four of his completed rides – his only blemish being an exclusion for leaving the track and attempting a pass using the perimeter concrete surrounds.

The GB team effort can be significantly identified by the fact that Poland had 11 race winners from the 18 heats, with the Eastern Europeans taking the first four heat wins and storming to a 6 point lead at the interval.

Captain Paul Heard, the spectacular Mark Boaler and debutant Myke Grimes were the team GB race winners in what was a controversial first half.

Referee Rob Spicer had to call some key decisions which saw Chris Timms excluded for Team GB and then Gavin Wheeler’s progress impacted when his front wheel and Bielica’s leg made contact – in each instance the British rider returned to the pits pointless and GB manager Dave Murphy passionately remonstrated with the referee.

The interval provided a much needed cooling off session for all concerned and Team GB clearly looked more disciplined, yet determined in their approach as they scorched to three maximum heat wins from which Poland never really recovered.

Chris Timms suffered an exclusion in the first half. Picture by Denis Murphy.

Chris Timms suffered an exclusion in the first half. Picture by Denis Murphy.

The fall of Polish rider Bielica, who made contact with Boaler’s leg whilst making a crucial last bend challenge then had the Polish team management protesting, but to no avail and Team GB raced out the final few heats with caution to ensure victory.

It was fitting that as the riders crossed the line in the final heat that the weekly Poole Harbour firework extravaganza commenced to provide a colourful backdrop for the GB celebrations.

All the GB riders contributed, as demonstrated by a quick look at the score-chart, and the team manager praised their resolute determination.

Whilst reflecting on the earlier controversy Murphy was keen to point out that “We did have one big decision go our way, so I shouldn’t complain and I recognise that it’s tough refereeing at this level. Many decisions are subjective, and although I won’t apologise for showing my fervent passion, I do hope that Rob will accept my appreciation of his contribution and composure in what was an intimidating atmosphere”.

Chris Timms 9+1, Paul Heard 13+1, Gavin Wheeler 12+1, Ben Mould 12, Myke Grimes 14, Mark Boaler 14+2, Ricki Johnson 6, Lee Aris 10+1, Aaron Smith (Junior) DNR.

Kamil Bielica 11, Greg Gluchowski 16, Marcin Kolata 6, Przemek Binkowski 9, Szymon Kowalczyk 11, Bartek Grabowski 15+1, Adam Bozejewicz 6, Arek Szymanski 7, Dawid Bas (Junior) 4.