Gold rush! Clareburt, Willmer win in pool; Corbin Strong's cycling triumph

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Aug 2022, 7:02am

Gold rush! Clareburt, Willmer win in pool; Corbin Strong's cycling triumph

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Aug 2022, 7:02am

All Blacks Sevens blow it

The All Blacks Sevens have blown a glorious opportunity for another Commonwealth Games gold.

Leading 14-0 with the hooter having sounded for halftime in their semifinal against Fiji, the Kiwi side opted to attack from midfield to try and extend their lead before the break, but threw an intercept, with Fiji closing the gap to 14-7 at halftime.

It was a mistake that proved pivotal in a chaotic conclusion to the clash.

Having led through a try to Regan Ware and a penalty try for a high tackle on Ware that reduced Fiji to six men for two minutes, New Zealand should have been comfortably in front. Instead, Fiji struck in the second half as well, levelling the scores, before New Zealand's comedy of errors continued.

On attack 20 metres out with time up on the clock, Tone Ng Shiu knocked the ball on, before Akuila Rokolisoa was yellow carded on the next possession for a failed intercept attempt.

A late tackle from Leroy Carter then saw New Zealand reduced to five men, and while they managed to send the game to extra time with desperate defence, their numerical disadvantage came back to bite them on the first play of the extra period. After New Zealand curiously kicked off deep to give away possession, Fiji raced away to move into the gold medal match.

Tone Ng Shiu of New Zealand dejected after defeat. Photo / Photosport

Tone Ng Shiu of New Zealand dejected after defeat. Photo / Photosport

Much like their female counterparts, the Kiwi men will now play for bronze, against Australia, at 8.12am. Australia were defeated 24-12 by South Africa in their semifinal.

Cyclists miss out on medals

A day of close calls and defeats for New Zealand cyclists on the track has extended in heartbreaking fashion.

Rebecca Petch was in line for a bronze medal with just one rider remaining in the women's 500m time trial, after a superb ride.

However, that remaining rider was Kristina Clonan, who set a Commonwealth Games record to claim gold by 0.06 seconds over Kelsey Mitchell, with Petch bumped to fourth.

Earlier, the Kiwi men's sprinters were unable to keep up with the feats of their peers, or their rivals on the track.

Callum Saunders, Sam Webster and Sam Dakin all bowed out early in the men's sprint.

Saunders was the first to go, finishing 17th in the qualification round which saw him miss the cut-off by just one place, edged out by Webster who took the 16th and final spot.

Webster was then quickly sent packing too by keirin gold medallist Nicholas Paul in the 1/8 finals, before Dakin, who was New Zealand's top qualifier in 10th, was beaten by 0.037 seconds by Shah Sharom to leave all the Kiwis to watch on from the sidelines for the remainder of the competition.

The Kiwi trio in the 25km women's points race also missed out on the medals, despite some combative rides.

Michaela Drummond, Bryony Botha and Emily Shearman all managed to take a lap on the field in the 100 lap race, but none could accumulate the extra points required in the sprints held every 10 laps to get onto the podium.

Drummond was the closest, being in the mix until the final laps, but the three leaders peeled off the front in the final laps and mopped up the remaining points, with Australia's Georgia Baker winning gold on 55 points over Scotland's Neah Evans on 36, with Eluned King of Wales in third on 32 points.

Drummond finished in fifth on 27 points, with Botha in eighth with 23 and Shearman ninth with 22.

There was better news in the qualification for the scratch race, with Campbell Stewart, Corbin Strong and George Jackson all advancing to the final at 5.42am.

Triathletes finish fourth

The New Zealand triathlon relay team has missed the podium, finishing fourth.

Hayden Wilde had the Kiwi squad in second after the first leg, but 20 seconds behind England's Alex Yee as the hosts ran away to a big advantage, leaving the rest of the teams battling for second.

That battle was between Wales, Australia, Scotland and New Zealand, with the Kiwis in fourth after Nicole van de Kaay's leg, moving up to third following Tayler Reid's efforts as Scotland dropped away.

That left Andrea Hansen battling against Wales' Non Stanford and Australia's Sophie Linn for the remaining medals, and she kept in touch through the swim and the bike legs, but with her rivals both superior runners she fell away, with Wales taking a surprise silver, 46 seconds behind England, and Australia bronze, three seconds further back.

Hansen crossed the line eight seconds later for fourth place.

Clareburt fastest again

Kiwi swimmer Lewis Clareburt has qualified fastest for a second consecutive final, breezing into the final of the 200m butterfly.

Clareburt, who won gold in the 400m individual medley after being top qualifier from the heats, will have a chance for back-to-back golds after clocking 1:56:76 in his butterfly heat, edging Chad le Clos by 0.09 seconds, with Duncan Scott third, 0.72 seconds back.

Clareburt finished seventh in the event four years ago, but is now a serious gold medal hope. South African great Le Clos, aiming for a fourth straight title in the event, will be his biggest challenger.

The final is at 6.28am.

Clareburt is not the only medal contender in the pool, with Andrew Jeffcoat qualifying second fastest for the semifinals in the 50m backstroke.

Jeffcoat, who finished fourth in the 100m backstroke final, won his heat with a time of 25.04 seconds, with only 100m gold medallist Pieter Coetze going faster in the other heats, by 0.09 seconds.

Cameron Gray, who won bronze in the 50m butterfly, is also through to the semifinals with the 12th fastest time. Gray also moved into the semifinals of the 100m freestyle, in 14th.

On the women's side, Helena Gasson has qualified second fastest for the 50m butterfly semifinals, with her time of 26.52 good enough to win her heat and sit only behind Margaret McNeil amongst all qualifiers.

Vanessa Ouwehand also moved through to the semifinals with the 15th best time.

In the 200m breaststroke, Mya Rasmussen missed the final, finishing 10th.

Coll survives scare

Kiwi squash star Paul Coll has survived a scare to advance into the quarter-finals of the men's singles.

The world No 2 was expected to easily stroll through but was given a surprising test by world No 93 Emyr Evans, who won the first game 11-8.

Coll stormed back to win the next two games 11-0 and 11-5, but Evans again proved a tough opponent to put away in the fourth game, with Coll having to battle to win 12-10.

The Greymouth product will play world No 26 Adrian Waller at 11.45pm tonight in the quarter-finals.

There were no such issues for world No 5 Joelle King, who took down world No 62 Georgia Adderley 11-3 11-5 11-5 to cruise into the quarter-finals, where she will play Lucy Turmel (world No 28) at 11pm tonight.

Coll no longer has company in the women's draw though, with Kiwi Kaitlyn Watts losing to Joshana Chinappa 8-11 11-9 4-11 6-11 in the round of 16.

Black Sticks on the board

The Black Sticks men have picked up their first win of the Commonwealth Games, beating Pakistan 4-1.

After a bizarre 5-5 draw with Scotland to start the Games, there was less drama against Pakistan, hitting the front in the second quarter through two goals to Hugo Inglis.

Pakistan hit back before the interval but Dylan Thomas extended the lead before Sam Lane made it secure in the final minute.

The Black Sticks go top of their pool for the time being, with their next game a crucial matchup against Australia on Tuesday morning.