MacRobertson Shield – 2nd tests – England and NZ win

The second tests started on a very windy day at two venues in Hawkes Bay, which is on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Two clubs are hosting the matches: England is playing the USA at Te Mata in Havelock North, and Australia is playing New Zealand at Marewa in Napier. Like Christchurch, the venue for the first tests, Napier has been devastated by an earthquake, but rather longer ago: it was destroyed in 1931 and rebuilt in the then current Art Deco style.

New Zealand continued their success, but only won two of the three opening doubles matches, with one adjourned at one game all after 12 hours of play (sorry for the misinformation in the first version of this message). England ended a long day with a 2-1 lead over the USA, James Death and Stephen Mulliner narrowly winning against Jeff Soo and Richard Lamm, a changed USA pairing since the first test. England’s team order was unchanged. In the other matches, Jamie Burch and David Maugham beat Jim Bast and Danny Hunnycutt in two games, but Rob Fulford and Samir Patel were beaten by Ben Rothman and David Maloof, also in straight games.

On day two, the wind having dropped, England won all three doubles matches 2-0, but not without plenty of alarms on the way. Rob Fulford completed the only triple of the test so far to win the first game +26tp after his partner Samir Patel had gone round, but they took the second by a smaller margin. David Maugham and Jamie Burch had two close endings, winning both games +3. James Death and Stephen Mulliner were last to finish at about 17.20. New Zealand won a further two doubles matches, again leaving one unfinished.

England won all six singles on the third day to gain a winning 11-1 lead against the USA. James Death was first to finish, with two TPs against the American no 1, Ben Rothman. Jamie Burch’s match against Rich Lamm was the only one to go to three games, with the first ending +2 to Jamie. At Marewa, conditions were easier because of an accident with the watering system. Robert Fletcher beat Paddy Chapman in two games, in a re-run of the World Championship final, and Ian Dumergue beat Toby Garrison to give the Australians two wins to NZ’s four. New Zealand also won Monday’s unfinished doubles, to take a 9-2 lead, leaving them needing two further wins to take the test and set up a decider against England.

The fourth day had the remaining doubles in both tests. New Zealand gained the two wins needed to win the test against Australia, but they still have two matches to complete, both involving Steve Forster and Robert Fletcher. England won three close matches to extend their lead against the USA. James Death accidentally pegged out his own ball at the end of a TPO, to leave both the other balls for hoop 1. Stephen Mulliner eventually won the two-ball ending +3. The second game was even closer: +2 to the English pair. The USA took the second game in both the other two doubles, but England came back to win the deciders.

On the final day in Hawkes Bay, the USA took the top singles match, Ben Rothman (who is to be married tomorrow) against Robert Fulford, and David Maloof beat Stephen Mulliner, both in 3 games.  England won the other four singles to end 18-3 up, James having three valiant attempts at sextuples.   The Australia v New Zealand match is still incomplete, with two doubles outstanding, but New Zealand have a 15-4 lead.  They took 4 of the days 6 singles, including the match between Chris Clarke and Robert Fletcher, to leave Chris undefeated in singles so far.  Paddy Chapman also won.

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