In heartbreaking circumstances, after a dramatic win seemed within their grasp, the Black Jack men were pipped by Australia in the opening transtasman bowls test at Howick yesterday.
After some heroics by Shannon McIlroy, in winning both his singles and with Danny Delany in the final round pairs, the Ali Forsyth-skipped Blacks Jacks triple came to the 12th and final end 11-8 up, poised on what would have been the clinching test win.
But Australia's skip Mark Casey trailed the jack to some back bowls to pick up four shots, which Forsyth failed to reduce with a couple of drives. That meant Australia, having been boosted by an 18-8 win in the fours, took the test with a superior differential.
Karen Murphy showed her world champion class by skipping her triple to two wins and her four to a second round to made it a senior double for the Australians with a 5-1 win over the New Zealand women.
Murphy and her line-up of Lynsey Armitage and Natasha Van Eldik, however, had to survive a rousing comeback by the Mandy Boyd-skipped Kiwi triple to win by just one shot.
The only New Zealand women's win yesterday came in the opening pairs by Jo Edwards and Val Smith, a result their opponents, Kelsey Cottrell and Rebecca Quail, reversed in the final round.
Other than the New Zealand men's development team, for whom Dunedin youngster Mark Watt starred with an unbeaten record, the Australians were also dominant in the women's development test and in both under-18 contests.