The New Zealand women's fours prospects of advancing to the medal rounds of the bowls world championships in Adelaide sustained a potentially mortal blow today when they were shaded 12-11 by top-three rival Malaysia.
Lisa White, Jan Khan, Mandy Boyd and Jo Edwards paid the penalty for a slow start and although they reeled in an early deficit the Kiwis could only conjure up one of the required three shots on the final end to alleviate the pressure on their faltering campaign.
Unbeaten after five rounds of pool play, losses to the Philippines and Malaysia leave their title bid on a knife edge heading into tomorrow's final qualifying matches.
Needing to improve a place from fourth to progress, New Zealand must beat Canada and Botswana and then hope unbeaten Scotland do them a favour by eliminating the Philippines, who led the Black Jacks combination by a point.
They stayed alive by beating Spain 16-14 in the afternoon session but they are no longer in control of their fate.
Shannon McIlroy and Richard Girvan are all but condemned to an early exit from the pairs competition despite winning four games on the trot including today's encounters with Zimbabwe (21-13) and Spain (15-9).
They are still two wins outside the top three, an insurmountable gap unless third-placed England slip up.
On a positive note Val Smith and the men's triple top their pools and are on course to head straight to the semifinal stage.
Defending singles champion Smith took care of Jersey's Karissa Bisson 21-12 and adopted Spaniard Lynn Greenwood 21-14 to top an ultra-competitive pool on points differential ahead of Norfolk Islander Debbie Wilford, who has regrouped after being thrashed 21-1 by the Kiwi in record time yesterday.
Tony Grantham, Matt Gallop and Ali Forsyth remain in pole position in pool two of the triples draw as the only unbeaten team.
New Zealand had to settle for a 10-10 stalemate in their opening clash when Jersey skip Thomas Greechan levelled enthralling contest with the final bowl.
Botswana, however, could not stay with Kiwis in the late game and succumbed 24-7.
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