New Zealand won back-to-back gold medals at the world rowing championships at Lake Karapiro near Cambridge, but three-time world champion single sculler Mahe Drysdale had to settle for silver and Emma Twigg bronze as the hosts won four medals from four contested finals today.
The men's pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond defended their world title in a narrow win over arch rivals Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge, overhauling the Great British pair in the final 500m to win by just half a metre in a thrilling finish as they delighted the full house on the shores of Lake Karapiro.
The New Zealanders continued their dominance over their nearest challenges, beating them for the 12th consecutive time after the Great British pair had led for most of the race.
The Greek duo of Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou were third, a long way back.
Minutes earlier, Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown won New Zealand's first gold medal of regatta, powering to victory in the women's pairs with an effortless three-second victory over second-placed Great Britain (Helen Glover and Heather Stanning), with United States (Zsuzanna Francia and Erin Cafaro) pipping Australia at the line to claim the bronze.
New Zealand started slowly but were level with Great Britain and Canada by the 500m before moving into overdrive. They had a 3sec lead at the halfway mark and never looked like being threatened.
It was Haigh's first world championships gold medal since 2005, when she partnered Nicky Coles to win at Japan, while Scown added to the bronze she won in the double sculls at last year's world championships at Poland.
This year is their first together, and today's win caps a remarkable few months having enjoyed plenty of success in Europe.
Drysdale, world champion in 2005, 2006 and last year, fought his way through the field after a slow start but could not overhaul the flying Czech, Ondrej Synek.
He told TV3 the race had been "pretty tough" and he had hoped his momentum would see him through to the end.
"I've stood on top of the podium four times already," he said. "I'm just disappointed I couldn't do it on home ground."
Drysdale is now looking to the 2012 London Olympics and is confident he can regain his form and overcome his back problem.
He said the future of rowing as a sport was looking bright.
"We've won more medals than we've ever won before, eight in total."
Synek eased to a 2sec win over Drysdale, who had to stave off a late challenge from Great Britain's Alan Campbell to win the silver medal. Campbell finished third.
Twigg made a valiant comeback late in the women's single sculls final to earn a bronze medal, finishing a boatlength behind Sweden's Frida Svensson, who held off the fast-finishing Belarussian Ekaterina Karsten to win the gold.
The hosts picked up three medals in the first round of A finals yesterday.
The men's lightweight pair of Graham Oberlin-Brown and James Lassche claimed silver while defending lightweight double sculls champions Storm Uru and Peter Taylor, and the men's four of Jade Uru, Simon Watson, Hamish Burson and David Eade, won bronze.