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NZ rowers fail to make Belgrade A finals

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand's new lightweight four failed to make the A final in Belgrade last night after a brave effort on its debut - leading until the final sprint where it was demoted to third and consigned to the B Final.

They will be joined in the B Finals by the heavyweight four, who also narrowly failed to make it through. The eight was eliminated after finishing fifth in the repechage.

Needing a first or second place to qualify for the main A Final, Curtis Rapley, James Lassche, Graham Oberlin Brown and Duncan Grant took the lead early and were still ahead at 500 metres - ensuring they would be in the battle as the race developed in a class that boasts a huge number of competitive, close boats.

They held onto the lead through halfway by half a second from China and less than a second from France. And they were still ahead by just tenths of a second 500 metres later as the race entered its closing stages. The more seasoned and experienced crews alongside them just managed to pull through on the final sprint to the line however, leaving the New Zealand crew about a boat length short of qualifying for the main final.

The Kiwis were disappointed to get so close to a debut A Final in a field containing several Olympic qualified boats, but remained

positive about further improvements in the B Final - still just their third international race together.

"Today in our semi-final we knew that it was going to be the most important race of this World Cup for us," said Grant. "It was a chance to be in the A-Final, so we focussed on that fact and went all out to get one of the two spots available.

"We stuck to our race plan and we learned that at our best we are up with the best crews in the lightweight four field. That's a real positive for us and even though we are all disappointed at not making the A-Final after fading a little in the sprint for the line we definitely feel that we are tracking well for the qualification regatta in a few weeks. We now plan to finish this World Cup on a high by winning the B-final."

The heavyweight four of Tyson Williams, Jade Uru, Chris Harris and Sean O'Neill also failed to make the cut for the A Final, and like the light four had been in contention during the race. Another new-look crew, it held third place until the final 500 metres before being overhauled in the sprint for the line for the final qualifying spot by the Czech Republic. Greece and the Belarusians locked out the top two places.

There was more disappointment for the men's eight. It finished last in a field of five in the repechage and was eliminated from the A Final line up. Again, they were close to the pace but not quite setting it and lost time to the field at every 500 metre marker having held an initial third place at the first checkpoint. The Ukraine, France, Poland and winners the Netherlands all made it through.

Tonight's rowing will see both fours in action in the B finals which define seventh through to 12th position.

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