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EU: Australia SWC final notes

Australia out of 2004 Speedway World Cup Australia has been eliminated from Speedway World Cup calculations for 2004 after finishing an agonising third in the last chance meeting at Poole (GB) on August 5. The Aussies -- Ryan Sullivan, Steve...

Australia out of 2004 Speedway World Cup

Australia has been eliminated from Speedway World Cup calculations for 2004 after finishing an agonising third in the last chance meeting at Poole (GB) on August 5.

The Aussies -- Ryan Sullivan, Steve Johnston, Leigh Adams, Jason Crump and Craig Boyce -- accumulated 42pts in the 25-heat event, just one in arrears of Poland (43), with Sweden the clear winner on 49. The Czech Republic was a distant last on 17pts.

"It was a very disappointing way to finish the 2004 campaign," said long-time Australian team manager Neil Street, who has been at the helm of Australia's three SWC victories since 1999. "It's a tough cup to win, and the depth of the teams in this year's event is phenomenal.

"We gave it our best shot in the last chance, but it wasn't to be. Now we'll look ahead to the 2005 event to gain some redemption."

Defending champion Sweden and Poland will now join qualifying round winners Great Britain and Denmark in this Saturday's final, also to be held at Poole. Between them, the four countries have won 34 of the 44 SWC events, with Sweden the inaugural winner in 1960.

With Boyce - who was a member of Australia's 2001 SWC-winning team -- replacing Adam Shields in the team that finished second behind Denmark in the August 3 qualifier, Australia got off to a flyer in the last chance, and led by 1pt after eight heats -- Crump and Adams both undefeated at that juncture.

Poland, with the evergreen Tomasz Gollob and 2003 under 21 world champion Jaroslaw Hampel leading the way, then took over the running before Sweden joined them in co-leadership 20.

In the final stanza, it was all Sweden, with four of its five teamsters - Tony Rickardsson, Antonio Lindback, Andreas Jonsson and Peter Karlsson -- scoring wins, and Mickael Max a second. That amounted to a 14pt haul, well ahead of Poland (eight) and Australia (five).

In the thrilling final heat, current world championship leader Crump was riding as a "joker", which meant that double points were on offer -- all the way to a maximum of six for a win. However, it wasn't to be, with Crump finished third behind Karlsson and Gollob, which still left the Aussies 1pt in arrears of the Poles.

For the individual scorers at Poole, Adams, the Aussie captain, led the way with 14pts out of a possible 15, ahead of Swedish teamsters Karlsson (13) and Jonsson (12). Gollob and Crump also produced 12pt efforts, with Sullivan (six), Johnston (seven) and Boyce (three) completing the Aussie scoring. <pre> RESULTS 1 Sweden 49 2 Poland 43 3 Australia 42 4 Czech Republic 17

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