RORY Schlein became the first non-British rider to win the national championship for 48 years, writes Phil Lanning.

The Australian beat Richard Lawson and Jason Crump to land the title at the National Speedway Stadium – with Pirates charger Steve Worrall finishing in fourth spot.

With top Brits Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert both missing, it was left to Schlein to take the honours.

The last Aussie to win the title was Ivan Mauger in 1972.

Schlein said: “It was a very tough night but it’s a great result.

“Weather conditions were hard but it was vital I got clear in the final.”

Steady drizzle certainly made conditions very tricky early on, especially for riders that were already lacking in race fitness.

Starting was always going to be priceless and that’s how it panned out. Pirates skipper Danny King stayed right on Lewis Kerr’s back wheel throughout heat one but sensibly decided not to dive in.

Next time out Steve Worrall could not avoid the roost after missing the start to twin brother Richie. Steve eventually disposing of his goggles in the murky Manchester air.

The first real thriller came in heat five when three-times world champion Crump, back in action after an eight-year absence, roared round the boards to pass Steve Worrall and Ben Barker. A real throwback to his halcyon days.

King stayed in the hunt with another second but Steve Worrall grabbed a first vital win to get him back in the running for a semi-final spot.

However, King’s night then nosedived in the deep conditions. A last and third left him out of the running.

In contrast, Pirate Worrall began to ooze with confidence with another slick win to beat Schlein from gate four in heat 15.

The other surprise packets at this stage were Richard Lawson, having dropped just two points and likewise Richie Worrall.

A huge heat 18 really threw a cat among the pigeons. Schelin swept round Poole legend Crump and Richie Worrall to move on to 12 points, leaving his two rivals both tied on 11.

There was no clear favourite for this curious British final and the parity was in evidence on track.

King ended his qualifying races with a stylish race victory but it was too little late.

With Schlein and Lawson straight into the final, it meant a semi-final of mouth-watering proportions with the Worrall brothers, Chris Harris and quite remarkably - and perhaps with a dose of surreality - Crump.

And he produced again. A world-class start from gate one and he was away.

Richie Worrall looked set to join him but inexplicably lost control on the last bend and ploughed into the fence, leaving his twin Pirate Steve to take the final place.

But it was Schlein who managed to seal the spoils and take British glory in the finale.