Denmark and Great Britain came through a hotly-contested World Cup Race-Off at Reading to book their places in Saturday's Final.

The victorious nations felt the benefit of a fast start as they built a lead in the early stages and then held off a late charge from holders Poland in particular.

The Danes, led from the front by skipper Hans Andersen, were models of consistency with eight second places in the first fifteen heats and not a single last place until the final block of five races.

Andersen dropped his only point of the night to Great Britain captain Scott Nicholls, the two exchanging places in a no-holds-barred duel in Heat 12, and the Danes always looked the likely winners on the night.

Britain were flying early on with both Chris Harris and Lee Richardson winning their first two rides - Harris picking off Charlie Gjedde and Tomasz Gollob on successive laps in Heat10 - but they began to come under pressure
in the middle stages of the meeting.

The USA and Poland both used their tactical jokers in the same race with American captain Greg Hancock - the tournament's outstanding rider so far - taking six points from Heat 11 as he was once again out on his own on his
nation's scorechart.

But Gollob's riding along with a pair of race wins from Sebastian Ulamek and Jarek Hampel kept Poland just in the frame, until Lee Richardson and Mark Loram took key successes for GB in Heats 18 and 19.

Richardson's joker ride netted zero points for the hosts, who also gave Nicholls a tactical subsitute ride to ensure they repelled the Poles. And it was Nicholls who secured their progression to the Final when Heat 22 finished in dramatic circumstances, the British rider overtaking Ulamek on the last bend.

The Pole then fell and Nicholls kept things wound on to also go past Billy Janniro.

Opening event winners Australia and Sweden lie in wait for the two Race-Off qualifiers in what looks to be one of the most open Finals since the competition's re-launch in 2001.

Danish skipper Andersen said: "All of our boys did a good job and we all won at least one race, so it was good practice for Saturday when I expect conditions to be similar. We're ready for the Final and it could well go all the way down to Heat 25."

Nicholls said: "Qualifying for the Final was always the aim, and everyone starts with a clean slate on Saturday. It was a good run-out for us and everybody did their bit.

"We came so close to winning the last time we were on home soil, and we really want to do it this time with the fans out in force for us."