Kiwi pair on course for five world titles in a row
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray remain on course to win their fifth consecutive world championship title - and possibly add another one to accompany it.
The unbeaten New Zealand men's pair advanced to the final of the event at the world rowing championships in Amsterdam this morning with a convincing win in their semifinal.
Bond and Murray were almost three and a half seconds quicker than the Great Britain combination of Matt Langridge and James Foad, winning in a time of six minutes 24.98 seconds.
The United States were third to also progress to the final - to be held overnight Saturday - while Germany, Spain and South Africa qualified from the other semi.
Bond and Murray, also the 2012 Olympic champions, pulled away from the British pair about after about 400 metres and were never headed.
The duo and coxswain Caleb Shepherd will also chase gold tomorrow morning in the final of the coxed pair as they attempt to pull of a rare double triumph in two small-boat events at a world championship.
New Zealand boats qualified for four finals today, with the women's pair, women's lightweight double scull and women's quad advancing to join the men's coxed pair and women's coxless four in finals so far.
Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt were second in their women's pair semifinals behind the crew from the United States and ahead of Australia.
The Kiwis were fourth after the 500m mark but moved up to second by the halfway stage of the 2000m race and stayed there, finishing in 7:22.12, almost six seconds behind the US.
Those three crews will be joined by Great Britain's Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, as the defending Olympic champs won the other semifinal in 7:16.62, with Romania and South Africa also making the last six.
Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie impressed in just their second international appearance together in the women's lightweight double scull.
After winning their heat on debut, the duo finished second - just three-quarters of a boat length behind South Africa - to head to the final in pursuit of a medal. China was third, while Canada, Australia and Italy were the top three in the other semi.
The ever-improving women's quad finished third in a tight race to qualify for their final. The crew of Erin-Monique O'Brien, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray just edged out a fast-finishing Belarus for the third and final qualifying spot for the final in their semi.
China and the US were the top two qualifiers in that semifinal, while Germany, Australia and Canada are the other finalists.
The New Zealand men's quad couldn't recover from a slow start in their semifinal and finished sixth, pushing them into the B final alongside Poland, France, Russia, Canada and the United States.
Alistair Bond and Adam Ling will contest the men's lightweight double scull C final after finishing second in their C/D semifinal behind China.
New Zealand boats will look to add to their list of finalists tomorrow when the men's double scull of Karl and Robbie Manson, the women's double scull of Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke, the men's lightweight four crew consisting of James Hunter, James Lassche, Peter Taylor and Curtis Rapley, men's single sculler Mahe Drysdale and women's single sculler Emma Twigg all contest semifinals.
Along with the men's coxed pair, the rookie NZ women's four crew of Kerri Gowler, Grace Prendergast, Kelsey Bevan and Kayla Pratt will compete in their final tomorrow morning on the Bosbaan course.
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