Rudyard Kipling's poem If probably summed it up best for Hamish Bond and Eric Murray yesterday on their way to defending their world championship title in the men's pair.

"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!"

Hold on they did as the duo surged past the British pair of Andy Triggs Hodge and Peter Reed in the final 500 metres and repelled the subsequent fightback to take gold by 0.32 seconds. It was a marked turnaround from the foxing semifinal tactics where New Zealand won by almost seven seconds.

Spurred on by a crowd of more than 10,000 rising and roaring from their picnic blankets on the embankment, there was no stopping the Kiwis notching their 12th win in a row against the best British rowing has to offer.

In a rare display of man love, a beaming Bond lay back into Murray's open arms before they rowed back up the course to thank the crowd.

That was topped off when they finally exited the water. They were met by legendary coach Dick Tonks and firm eyeball-to-eyeball handshakes as they carried their skiff to the sheds for the final time this international season.

Tonks said the race was a great watch: "The men's pair was the one everyone wanted to see, it was level all the way down the course. The British pair has pedigree and if they stay in it for the next two years it will make for a cracking race at the London Olympics."

Murray and Bond had been behind the British the whole way - 0.55s at the 500m, 0.31s at the 1000m and 0.63s at the 1500m - but their "miles makes champions" training regime under Tonks ultimately paid dividends.

"It was time to withdraw after putting the money in the bank," Murray said. "Everyone tweaks their race plan to get an advantage. I make the calls and while they took off at 1250m, it was about knowing when to take the dog leash off Hamish and let him go for it. For us it came in the last 200m. We just hoped our speed was there.

"We knew we'd won [despite the close finish] because we'd drifted a bit more than the British. Then I looked at the scoreboard and it was like: hallelujah."

Bond was more analytical: "The majority of times we can beat the Poms, even if they are the two best rowers in Britain. We wanted to increase that probability as much as possible so if it came to the worst we'd still have enough in the tank.

"Our racing options are not narrowing despite our success. We're still quite young [he's 24, Murray is 28] and we pride ourselves on our consistency."

The euphoria for Bond and Murray was balanced by the stiff upper lips of Triggs Hodge and Reed, who wore black ribbons to mark the tragic loss of former Olympic gold medallist Andy Holmes to leptospirosis late last month.

Said Reed: "We can take some satisfaction at taking part in one of the best races of the regatta.

"No doubt there will be a lot of talk about it being 12-0 but there is still not much in it.

"I've got to give credit to those guys, they're outstanding. We are too but a little bit less so. I'm sure the home crowd are grateful to us.

"I thought we might win with our last 250m because we were well tapered for sprinting, but it wasn't enough."

Triggs Hodge warned not to discount them if they are chosen to race on home water at the London Olympics.

"The fat lady hasn't sung yet - that's due in August 2012."

The Kiwi pair paid tribute to their fans, notably those who signed up to fund their campaign through the Murray-initiative Faceboat.

The pair carried a flag in their boat which included photos of all those who had contributed to the cause.

"Our Faceboat fans came with us down the track.

"They probably felt it as much as we did, whether they were in the crowd or wherever in the world."

Bond said achieving the feat at home was the highlight of his career to date.

"Barring Olympic gold, this will be it."