The New Zealand men's four are now reliant on a last-ditch winning sequence and other results to fall their way if they are to stay alive at the World Bowls championships in Adelaide.
Needing to win their last four pool games to have a chance to finish in the top three and advance to post-section play, the Kiwi quartet faltered at the first hurdle yesterday when they could only salvage a draw with Zimbabwe.
Skip Richard Girvan levelled the scores at 15-15 at the Lockley's club, but his final bowl drifted too wide to secure a deadlock-breaking second shot.
"We probably outplayed them but they drove us off the park really. On one end he [Zimbabwean skip Roy Garden] had the lead driving with his second bowl," exasperated Bowls NZ head coach Dave Edwards said.
"We played it strategically pretty well and hung in there. We outplayed them on the draw but he [Garden] resorted to the drive a lot and had a lot of success."
The lead changed eight times throughout a tense 18-end contest which left Girvan, Tony Grantham, Matt Gallop and Ali Forsyth subdued when Girvan's final roll of the dice didn't quite come off.
"They're not dead in the water yet; there's still a chance but it's getting pretty difficult now," Edwards said as New Zealand languished in sixth place in their pool, three points adrift of third-placed England.
Malaysia and Namibia are also in touch with the English and a win clear of the Kiwis. Former Marlborough representative and Blenheim Bowling Club member Gallop said playing in his first World Championships, the pressure was obviously more intense than anything else he's played. "Day one and it was a bit like that. Bit of nerves. I'm a bit more relaxed now and trying to enjoy it as much as I can. Relish the occasion."
Despite their precarious position, he remains positive they can pull something out of the hat.
"We came within a whisker of being in a much better position. We were all square with Wales on the opening day but a couple of big bowls at the end and they won by four. Ireland beat us on the last end and yesterday we held the game but they won it with the last bowl.
"There are a lot of good sides here. Even the smaller countries like Zimbabwe and Namibia are playing well. Just a matter of chipping away and we are improving all the time."
Conditions were trying he said. "Very hot and very breezy. The greens are not too bad, running at around 16-17sec. That's quick enough."
Gallop will have some close support from Friday when his parents Jan and Lloyd Gallop, from Blenheim, arrive in Adelaide to watch the event.
He is also in the New Zealand triple, playing two with Grantham lead and Forsyth, from the Havelock Bowling Club, skip and that competition begins tomorrow.
The women's triple of Lisa White, Jan Khan and Meg Ryan also had to settle for a 14-14 draw with the highly rated Malaysians, although the end of their five-match winning streak should not hamper their chances.
They were fourth, just a point behind England, whom they beat 22-5 on Monday, and have already played frontrunners Hong Kong and Australia so their schedule is relatively straightforward.
Shannon McIlroy remains in contention for a top-three placing in his singles pool, despite being unable to hold on to a 10-2 advantage against Scottish powerhouse Paul Foster at Holdfast Bay.
McIlroy made an excellent start to lead by eight after six ends, but the Scot gradually reeled him in and ultimately won comfortably, 21-16.
Unbeaten Australian Leif Selby is in pole position, Foster has only one loss after eight rounds while Japan's Kenta Hasabe leads McIlroy on points differential, so the New Zealander is still within striking distance.
Meanwhile, defending pairs champions Val Smith and Jo Edwards completed a disappointing early session for the Black Jacks when they were upset 22-11 by Hong Kong. Fairfax NZ
- The Marlborough Express
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