NZ overwhelm US in croquet world champs
Croquet (Photosport File)
New Zealand have opened their bid for the world teams croquet title in emphatic fashion by crushing the United States 20-1 in Christchurch.
The New Zealanders took an unassailable lead on day three of the five-day contest against the US and they didn't let up over the remainder of the Test.
The home side have the strongest line-up on paper of the four nations battling for the MacRobertson Shield.
Five of their six-strong team are ranked in the top 10 - world No.1 Chris Clarke (Christchurch), British-based Paddy Chapman, Toby Garrison (Wellington), skipper Aaron Westerby (Waikato-King Country) and Greg Bryant (Nelson).
The other member, Clarke's wife, Jenny, is the world's top-ranked woman player at No.15.
In the other opening-round Test, defending champions England beat Australia 16-5.
The second round, with New Zealand up against Australia, begins in Hawke's Bay on Sunday.
The MacRobertson Shield is competed for every three to four years, and only England and New Zealand have held the trophy since World War II. New Zealand's last success was in 1986, with England winning the seven tournaments since then.