New Zealand's Black Jacks face an anxious time on the greens in Adelaide today as their bowls world championship aspirations generally hang in the balance.
Only defending champions Val Smith and Jo Edwards have the luxury of occupying a top-three position in their pool, a prerequisite for advancing to post-section play, heading into the final two qualifying rounds.
The duo's inconsistent form continued when they were upset by Hong Kong 22-11 in the morning session yesterday but they solidified third, and improved their points differential over fourth-placed South Africa to +60, by beating the Netherlands 22-10.
Smith, Edwards and the South Africans both meet second-placed Scotland; The Kiwis face lowly Thailand first so they could be assured of progressing before they take on Claire Johnson and Margaret Letham.
Shannon McIlroy is fourth in his men's singles group but is in a potentially advantageous position given he faces two struggling opponents while Japan's Kenta Hasabe - who leads the Kiwi on points differential -- has to take on unbeaten Australian and world No 2 Leif Selby.
McIlroy lost his first match yesterday to in-form Scotsman Paul Foster 21-16 - after leading 10-2 at the end of six ends - but rebounded to clinch a tense contest with Anuruk Rodmanee (Thailand) 21-19 at Holdfast Bay.
Hasabe has a +19 points differential but with Selby in a class of his own and Rodmanee also on his schedule, McIlroy has a prime opportunity to secure third if he beats out of contention American Steve Nelson and Zvi Hadar of Israel.
The women's triple of Lisa White, Jan Khan and Meg Boyd is also fourth - a point behind England --- though on paper they have an easier draw today with Thailand and the Dutch already out of the race.
England, one of the pre-tournament favourites, faces an also-ran in Spain but crucially they also encounter pool leaders Hong Kong.
New Zealand battled to a 14-14 stalemate with Malaysia in their first game at the Lockley's club but found Norfolk Island a far easier proposition, winning 25-7.
A draw against Zimbabwe probably killed off the men's fours slender hopes of qualifying although they finished day four by thrashing Israel 24-7.
Ironically the Kiwis have the best points differential in their pool but are only sixth and must beat Thailand and third-placed Malaysia and then rely on other results to fall their way.
Skip Richard Girvan squared their contest against the Zimbabweans at 15-15 in the final end but he was denied a deadlock-breaking second shot when his last bowl drifted wide of the jack.
"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," said Bowls NZ head coach Dave Edwards.
The lead changed eight times throughout a tense 18-end contest which left Tony Grantham, Matt Gallop, Ali Forsyth subdued when Girvan's final roll of the dice didn't quite come off.
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