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The New Zealand men's coxless pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray won the psychological battle when they blitzed Great Britain in the semifinal yesterday.
They won in a time of 6min 50.88sec, with the Great Britain pair a distant second in 6min 57.43sec . The margin was 6.55sec. Italy was another 14sec back in third spot.
The good news for the New Zealand crew was that the other semifinal was also slow, with Greece winning in 6min 58.12sec from Germany, 6min 59.11sec.
New Zealand is the defending champion and the Great Britain pair of Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge was second in Poland last year.
Despite the drubbing in the semifinal, Triggs-Hodge is still confident of a British win in the final tomorrow.
"It is a two-horse race," he said.
"There is no-one else in the field. We are a quality crew and did not travel this far to race for silver. It's going to be a ding-dong battle."
Bond and Murray had a slow start in the semifinal and were in fourth place after 500m.
They made their move at 500m and entered a rhythm that took them to the lead by 1.5sec at 1000m. The margin increased slightly for the rest of the race.
"We got a good lead so there was no point in putting 100% into the rest of the race," Murray said.
"We just held the rhythm we had in the second 500m through the second half of the race. There was no point in upping it. We just held what we had created."
The New Zealand pair learnt a valuable lesson when winning the world title last year.
"It was our fastest ever start," Murray said.
"It came from fear because Britain had looked good in the heat.
"We bolted out like a scared cat but faded in the third 500m."
The New Zealanders have adopted a different strategy this year and plan to get into a good rhythm first and then come through strongly in the second 500m and put their foot on the accelerator in the last 500m if it is needed.
Six New Zealand crews will be in the A finals today, with local interest centering on Genevieve Behrent (Otago University) in the women's four, Lucy Strack (North End) in the women's lightweight double sculls and Fiona Bourke (Otago University) in the women's quadruple sculls.