New Zealand’s Black Jacks completed their first unbeaten day on the world championship greens in Adelaide yesterday although the men’s four are still in danger of missing post-section play.
While Shannon McIlroy in the men’s singles, defending pairs' world champions Val Smith and Jo Edwards plus the women’s triple are on course to advance, the highly-rated quartet of Tony Grantham, Matt Gallop, Ali Forsyth and Richard Girvan are in must-win territory despite recording comfortable wins over Brunei and China on day three at the Lockleys club.
Back-to-back losses at the start of their campaign on Saturday and another defeat to Wales on Sunday leaves the Kiwis precariously placed with four pool games remaining.
Previously boosted by a walkover win over Spain after two of their players fell ill, New Zealand dispatched Brunei 30-14 and China 30-5 to at least boost their point’s differential.
Bowls New Zealand head coach Dave Edwards was cautiously optimistic they could make the cut by finishing in the top three of their section.
“They probably can’t afford to drop another one, all we have to do is keep winning and keep those W’s rolling,” said Edwards.
The four can’t afford to slip up against Zimbabwe and Israel today; Thailand and Malaysia loom tomorrow.
McIlroy is well back on track after dropping his first match against Australian world No.2 Leif Selby on opening day, he extended his winning sequence to six after beating Oabona Motadiile from Botswana 21-13 and Zimbabwean Richard Hayden 21-14 at the Holdfast Bay rinks.
He is currently nestled in the top three of his section and can strengthen his chances of advancing when taking on second-placed Scotsman Paul Foster in the first of his two outings today.
Lisa White, Jan Khan and Meg Boyd are also on a handy run at Holdfast Bay, extending their winning streak to five after thrashing the USA 20-8 before orchestrating favourite England’s first defeat by an emphatic margin, 22-5.
They take on Hong Kong and the Netherlands today realising two more victories should get them through.
Smith and Edwards, meanwhile, rebuilt their campaign after a surprise third round loss to South Africa on Sunday by taking care of Fiji (21-13) and the USA 28-7.
The Fijian duo of Salanieta Gukivuli and Liz Moceiwai surprised by leading 12-7 after the 10th end but the Kiwis finished strong to outscore the underdogs 14-1 from then on to win with ease.
They face the potentially dangerous Malaysians and lowly-ranked Norfolk Island today.
Edwards was happy the team had recovered from a concerning start to the tournament where the four and triple were unable to get off the mark, while McIlroy and the pair lost to Australian opposition.
“It was a bit of a rough start, the first day wasn’t what we were after. We were fully prepared for the first day but maybe we were a wee bit over-hyped, tense and not relaxed enough.
“Since then we’ve knuckled down and we’re starting to really play well.”
Of these accolades, which would you like to win most?