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Reigning champs NZ pip US in world croquet

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/04/2017

New Zealand have begun the defence of their world teams croquet title in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to pip the United States 11-10 in California.

It was their two debutants, Chris Shilling and Aiken Hakes, who took them over the line in a Test in which they had trailed for much of the five days.

NZ Open champion Hakes (Wellington) levelled the score at 10-10 by beating Jeff Soo 26-22 26tp-12.

Moments later, Shilling (Otago) completed a 22-26tp 26tp-3 26-17 win over Stuart Lawrence.

Shilling's win meant he joined New Zealand's top-ranked player, British-based world No. 4 Paddy Chapman, as their team's top performers from the Test.

Both won their two singles matches and two of their three doubles.

The tournament for the MacRobertson Shield, which New Zealand regained on home soil in 2014, involves the world's top four croquet countries in a round-robin format.

In the other first-round clash in Rancho Mirage, Australia beat England 12-9 to boost their chances of claiming the trophy for the first time since 1935.

New Zealand next meet their trans-Tasman rivals, whose six-strong line-up features three brothers, including world No. 1 Robert Fletcher.

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