OXFORD Cheetahs began the season by slipping to a heavy 61-29 defeat at Poole Pirates.

Both Luke Killeen and Scott Nicholls produced early heat winners for Cheetahs, and the score was 14-10 to Poole after four races.

However, the Pirates then rattled off six consecutive heat wins to kill off the meeting as a contest.

Killeen was the highlight from a Cheetahs perspective, and the second heat was his opening race win at second tier level. He looked lively all night and finished the evening with eight points.

He led Ben Cook for over a lap in Heat 4, and by the time Cook passed Killeen, Nicholls had built up a lead, and won the race, leading to a 4-2 for Cheetahs, and their only heat advantage all night.

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Killeen said: “I’m very happy with my own performance. I’ve struggled the previous two times that I’ve been to Poole, so it was a nice turnaround.

“It was tough for the team. Everyone gave their best, but there’s new shale down at Poole this season and it was a different ball game. Some of the lads were struggling to find a set-up that was working for them.

“Nothing is won or lost at the start of the season. At least all the boys have now had at least one outing this season, while we’ve been here once and we will work out the track before we come back here in our league match.

“It’s my highest score for the Cheetahs, so it’s a great start to the British season for me. I think being on the bike over the [Australian] summer has helped me and I want to continue the way I’ve started, while I’m sure the team will soon bounce back.”