Great Britain women’s cycle speedway team have taken a 2-0 lead after securing two victories over their Australian rivals in Adelaide this weekend.
The hectic schedule for the women’s squads saw back-to-back fixtures in blistering conditions in the southern city, with highs into the mid-thirties at the rural Murraylands track on Sunday.
In the first test, Holly Greenhalgh sped away for an impressive opening heat win for Australia.
The teams traded blows in the first half with both sides getting maximum heat advantages, including a 7-2 for Australia after a crash saw Britain’s Lauren Jacobs retire for treatment for a suspected concussion.
Australia had a slender two-point lead at the halfway stage and the second half of the match featured yet more closely contested heats.
The British duo from Leicester, Michelle Whitehead and Lizzie Rigley, broke the deadlock in heat 12 to take the lead of the match with a maximum heat advantage.
Australia levelled up the match two heats later with a 6-4 with an impressive effort from Letitia Collins, but three well-worked 6-4 wins in succession saw Britain pull ahead to a six-point lead, with the match eventually finishing 91-85 to the visitors.
Round two, the following day took a similar form, with another close encounter on an even hotter afternoon 50 miles out of Adelaide, in Murray Bridge at Murraylands Cycle Speedway.
12 of the 18 races were shared heats, underlining how much closer the two sides are in 2017, after Great Britain ran away with the series in the 2015 edition.
The British side made the more positive start, not conceding a heat advantage for the entire first half and doing enough to edge away into a healthy 51-38 lead at half time.
The powerful trio of Collins, Lucy Millikin and Greenhalgh provided Australia’s five heat wins in the first half and were instrumental in keeping Australia in touching distance in the second.
However, it wasn’t enough for the home side and the British squad took their second straight victory In the five-match series.
Miriam Thompson 10+1, Holly Greenhalgh 17, Kayleigh Clarke 13, Emily Makepeace 4, Sophie Mitchell 7, Lucy Millikin 16, Letitia Collins 14+1, Jackie Kinross 4
GREAT BRITAIN 91
Charlie-Jane Herbert 13+1, Lauren Hookway 13+1, Michelle Whitehead 16, Lizzie Rigley 13+3, Laura Watson 11+2, Macie Schmidt 14+1, Lauren Jacobs 0, Chloe Pearce 11+1
GREAT BRITAIN 92
Lizzie Rigley 16+1, Michelle Whitehead 7, Lauren Hookway 13+1, Charlie-Jane Herbert 9+2, Macie Schmidt 18, Laura Watson 13+4, Niamh Morton 8+1, Krissy Mines
Miriam Thompson 8+1, Holly Greenhalgh 17, Kayleigh Clarke 11+1, Delicia Pride 4, Sophie Mitchell 5, Lucy Millikin 15, Letitia Collins 19+1, Carley Martin 5