Australia grabs early advantage

00:47, Feb 05 2013
Getting it right: Australian Robert Fletcher gets down on the green to line up a shot.

Australia had taken an early 3-1 advantage after the opening day of the trans-Tasman croquet tournament began in wet conditions yesterday at the Nelson Hinemoa Club.

Australia and New Zealand's test series comprises three two-day test matches. Each test match consists of four mixed doubles and eight singles matches. The fixture is due to be decided on Saturday, with an extra day's play reserved for the Sunday if a tie-breaker play-off is required.

Australia won three of yesterday's four doubles matches, with Alison Sharpe and Stephen Forster beating Aaron Westerbury and Laura Whittaker 26TP-9, 26-9, Rosie Graham and Robert Fletcher beating Michael Wright and Alison Robinson 0-26, 26TP-0, 26-15 and Claire Bassett and Malcolm Fletcher accounting for Harps Tahurangi and Jane McIntyre 23-26, 26-9, 26-16.

Dave Wickham and Jenny Clarke recorded New Zealand's only win with a 26-0, 26-19 victory over Tricia Devlin and Kevin Beard.

Since 1991, the tournament has been played nine times, with the New Zealand team holding the edge, winning a total of seven series. Although on this occasion, Australia are heading in as slight favourites.

The national teams consist of the top four women and four men from New Zealand and Australia. However, a late injury change has seen the world No 1 ranked New Zealander, Chris Clarke, replaced in the squad.