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 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.
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 of progressing.
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.
"It was another tense tussle, the Malaysians are no mugs. That result keeps them right in the hunt," Edwards said.
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.
Fortunately they have a handy points differential over fourth-placed South Africa.
- © Fairfax NZ News