| Other Sport News | Sunday November 11 2012 6:28
The New Zealand Black Fins have taken a commanding lead of 97 points over Australia going into the final day of the National Teams competition at the world surf lifesaving championships at Glenelg Beach.
Buoyed by their stirring performances in the pool over the three days of competition at the South Australia Aquatic and Leisure Centre, the Kiwis and the Aussies locked horns in typical Trans Tasman fashion on Saturday when the competition moved to the beach.
And with one day remaining New Zealand leads on 573 points from Australia 476, with the Black Fins in perfect position to secure their first championships win since 1998.
The Australians drew early points with Kristyl Smith winning the women's board final, Miranda Bell the open women's surf race and a Shannon Eckstein and Hugh Dougherty quinella in the men's single ski.
Eckstein and Dougherty showed their dominance in what was one of the best finishes of the day with the Australian team captain picking the best line back to the beach, to hold off Dougherty, New Zealand Olympic kayaker Steven Ferguson and South Africa's Jayden Alford-Loots.
But the Kiwis were always in hot pursuit, picking up consistent points in almost every final until two stirring victories, first to Nikki Cox and Devon Halligan in the women's board rescue over Smith and Rebecca Creedy and then to Max Beattie and Kevin Morrison, who caused a major upset in the men's board rescue.
In what was one of the most exciting finishes of the day Beattie and Morrison held off the fast finishing Eckstein and Dougherty after Eckstein swam off course on the swim, which saw Dougherty leave the beach in last place.
But in a never-say-die paddle the Aussies passed all but the Kiwis in a frantic finish which saw the New Zealanders celebrate wildly, knowing it could well break a 14-year drought.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Iranian Olympian Ghasemi Reza created history, winning the country's first ever international lifesaving gold medal to beat Australia's Tom Nolan in the beach sprint.
Photo: NZ Herald