Jo Edwards' bid for a third successive bowls world championship pairs gold remains on track although an imposing Australian duo threatens to derail her quest in Adelaide on Thursday.
Edwards and Val Smith - the champions at Christchurch four years ago - are assured of at least silver after negotiating a closely fought two-pronged sudden death assignment at the Lockleys club today.
Whether they can avenge a 17-11 pool play loss to Kelsey Cottrell and Rebecca Quail remains to be seen though as the title favourites cruised into the decider by obliterating the previously well-regarded Scots 24-1.
Spared the rigmarole of a quarterfinal after topping their group, the Australians only got into gear in the afternoon and made embarrassingly short work of Claire Johnson and Margaret Letham over 18 one-sided ends.
Meanwhile, Smith and Edwards were made to toil for a second time before edging the Philippines 13-12, their second one-point margin of the day following an 18-17 victory over England in the morning quarterfinal.
Wendy King and Ellen Falkner were hoping to exact revenge for their loss in the 2008 decider but could only make up four shots on the 18th, one short of prolonging a contest that had already gone almost four hours.
Smith, who is also in the semifinals of the singles and Edwards, still smarting from the fours' elimination yesterday, then basically headed straight back out from the clubhouse to take on the pacesetters from pool two, Milagros Witheridge and Ainie Knight.
It was nip and tuck for the duration - 5-4 to the Kiwis after nine ends - but the title-holders eventually carried a two-shot lead into the final end of a low-scoring and Knight couldn't quite bridge the gap.
The Black Jacks are still alive in five of the eight disciplines - Shannon McIlroy is the Kiwi in action tomorrow in the quarterfinals of the men's singles.
He has drawn Jersey's Malcolm De Souza with the winner to take on Australian Leif Selby on Friday.
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