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Page last updated at 07:33 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 08:33 UK

Great Britain squeeze into Speedway World Cup final

By Chris Osborne
BBC Sport at the Norfolk Arena

Scott Nicholls
Nicholls has shone for struggling Ipswich this season

Great Britain secured a memorable victory on Monday night by booking their place in this year's World Cup finals in Denmark.

Ipswich's Scott Nicholls top scored for Rob Lyon's men with 14 as GB pipped Australia by three points at King's Lynn's Norfolk Arena.

Sweden finished the evening in third despite an impressive performance by Lakeside's Jonas Davidsson.

Finland had to settle for a distant fourth place.

Australia and Sweden will now battle it out with Denmark and Russia to try and grab the last two places in Saturday's final.

The early signs were not good for the home team after Australia pulled into a quick lead thanks to a nine-point haul in the first three heats, with Chris Holder, Davey Watt and Troy Batchelor all picking up maximum points in their first outings.

A piece of good fortune sparked the GB response after Swede Magnus Zetterstrom's technical hitch on the final turn of heat four allowed Swindon's Simon Stead to earn his country's first win of the night.

It signalled a shift in momentum as Britain went on to drop just two points in the next five races, Coventry's Chris Harris looking particularly sharp with two quick-fire victories.

Heading into heat 10 it was clear the fans at the Norfolk Arena were going to be watching a two-horse race, with Australia and Great Britain level on 21 points, seven clear of third-placed Sweden.

The togetherness of Lyon's side was displayed when Wolverhampton's Tai Woffinden came off in heat 10.

Chris Harris
Coventry's Chris Harris finished with 13 points

After crashing into the wall the Wolves rider was hauled to his feet by his British team-mates, who had sprinted across the track to come to his aid.

Australia failed to capitalise on Woffinden's tumble as Peterborough's Rory Schlein also hit the dirt after the restart while trying to make amends for some sluggish gating.

Watt, one of three Poole riders in the Australia line-up, and Batchelor recorded back-to-back wins for their country but Harris continued his 100% start with victory in the 13th.

Nicholls followed that up with a first-place finish in the 14th, putting GB in the lead for the first time in the evening, albeit with a slender 30-29 advantage over the Australians.

The race for third place and the final spot in Thursday's race-off was essentially over by the midway point, with Sweden opening up a 13-point lead over the Finns.

But the story was a very different one in the race for first and, with it, an automatic spot in Saturday's final.

It continued to be nip and tuck between Britain and Australia and the home side were merely two points ahead coming out of heat 22.

The 23rd could have proved decisive when Stead was excluded after hitting the deck following a scuffle off the gate with Holder.

It was a tough call for the referee but Davidsson did the Britons a favour by claiming three points at the restart and restricting Holder to two.

It meant with two heats remaining the top two were level on 48 points, but captain Harris lived up to his moniker of 'Bomber' by exploding out of the gate and picking up a maximum return.

Nicholls then finished the job in the final race by beating Batchelor over the line and booking GB's place in the final to join round one winners Poland.


Great Britain 51: Scott Nicholls 14, Lee Richardson 10, Tai Woffinden 7, Simon Stead 7, Chris Harris 13. Australia 48: Chris Holder 12, Davey Watt 11, Troy Batchelor 11, Rory Schlein 6, Darcy Ward 8. Sweden 40: Fredrik Lindgren 14, Jonas Davisson 14, Antonio Linback 6, Magnus Zetterstrom 5, Daniel Nermark 1. Finland 14: Timo Lahti 0, Joonad Klymakorpi 9, Juha Hautamaki 2, Kauko Nieminen 1, Tero Aarnio 2.



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see also
GB go beyond Lyon's expectations
27 Jul 10 |  Motorsport
Great Britain name World Cup team
13 Jul 10 |  Motorsport
GB fail to make World Cup final
17 Jul 09 |  Motorsport
Nicholls stars in World Cup final
24 Jul 06 |  Speedway


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