NEW DELHI - Former policeman Nick Lane arrested the string of New Zealand first round defeats at the Commonwealth Games today, and will today fight for a place in the bronze medal bout.
Lane, 40 and making his Games debut, easily handled Varntan Aparian, of Cyprus, in his 120kg opener, clearly taking the first two rounds so that a third was not required.
In doing so, the 110kg Wellingtonian was the first New Zealand freestyle wrestler to escape the first round at New Delhi.
Fighting for a place in the final he lost in two rounds to classy Canadian Arjan Bhullar, to find himself in a repechage against Hugues Thiery Onanena, of Cameroon, with the winner fighting for bronze.
Cantabrian Stephen Hill and Romania-born Aucklander Anderi Paulet both lost first up and were eliminated when their conquerors lost in the next round.
Coach Mark Grayling was upset with both, saying they had ignored his instructions, although Hill would have won had he not been victim of a first round umpiring error.
Grayling found himself in trouble with the officials when he protested, causing the bout to be halted.
He was lucky not to be ejected.
"It was a points stuff up, and I'm still mad about it," he told NZPA.
He was also angry with Hill, 28, who looked as if he was on the way to victory in the 84kg qualification bout when he easily won the second round against Scot Sean Keogh.
It was not to be, with Keogh pinning the Cantabrian on his back, then his chest, to romp away with the deciding round to the tune of 7-1.
"His personal coach was in the stand, and he listened to him, not me and cocked it up," Grayling said.
He had told Hill not to try to throw the Scot, but heard a familiar voice from the stand telling him to do just that.
"I'm calling it one way and his uncle's yelling out the other."
To prepare for the Games the redheaded Hill spent six months at a time based in Vladikavkaz in Russia, living and breathing wrestling while attending elite camps high in the Caucasus mountains.
Paulet, 22, lost his 66kg bout with tall Nigerian Romeo Joseph in wrestling's equivalent of a tiebreaker after the pair shared the first two rounds and fought their way to a cautious 0-0 tie in the third.
Paulet lost the draw for the tiebreaker and had to start on the defensive against the Games Greco Roman wrestling 60kg bronze medallist, and was promptly beaten.
Grayling said the tiebreaker was a "lucky dip" with 95 per cent of those who lose the call unable to defend from the position Paulet found himself in, with Joseph given a free grip on one of his legs.
Grayling had wanted Paulet to fight aggressively in the third round, rather than risk all on getting a favourable break in tiebreaker.
"He blew it."