New Zealand's rookie eight were fizzing after all but pulling off the upset of the eight-day world rowing championships on Lake Karapiro near Hamilton.
The New Zealanders paced themselves well in the first of two heats yesterday, easing through the first 500m in fourth place before upping the their rating in the middle 1000m to hit the 1500m mark in first place.
They dug deep in the closing 500m, and it was only a determined sprint in the closing 150m that gave defending champions Germany the win in five minutes 24.62 seconds.
New Zealand took second .22sec behind, with China third in 5min 28.39sec and 2008 Olympic gold medalists Canada fourth. They showed impressive focus and consistency, with their 500m splits over the final 1500m falling between 1min 21.32sec and 1min 21.81sec.
A pragmatist would insist their second place may as well have been fifth - with only the race winner going straight through to the final, the crew still have to row off on Thursday in the repechage, and must finish in the top two to make Sunday's final.
Co-coaches Dave Thompson and Mark Stallard are pragmatists - despite being obviously pleased with the result, both pointed out that yesterday's effort didn't mean much if the eight couldn't back it up in the repechage.
Stallard: "We were up against the world champions, but it's not done yet, we've got to race again in the repechage. The aim is to get into the A final: they're not there yet, so there's still a job to be done."
Thompson said: "It was a great effort, the guys really had self-belief today and it's amazing what they achieved. But we've got a big race to get through on Thursday to get to the final."
With four under-23 rowers in the eight, qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics and building towards peak performance at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 has always been the long-term goal. But that didn't stop No 3 seat Ian Seymour from enjoying the aftermath of their stirring performance.
"We just went out there and probably proved a lot of people wrong. We showed we're there, or thereabouts, and we're ready for the next race," Seymour said afterwards.
"We don't mind people labelling us as underdog - bring it on. We're there to show the world what we've got."
He said the crew's focus was such that they had no idea what their opposition were up to during the 2km race.
"I honestly didn't know where we were through the thousand - I was just head down, and we were just going. The Chinese were right next to us and we just kept going. It was exactly what we'd done in training That's our mentality - we're fitter than everyone, we'll just keep on ticking along."
Quiet No 2 seat Tyson Williams summed it up most succinctly.
"We had our own expectations, and we met them today. We kept everything right, but the job's not done."
NZ results from day three:
Eight: Germany (Gregor Hauffe, Maximilian Reinelt, Kristof Wilke, Florian Mennigen, Richard Schmidt, Lukas Mueller, Toni Seifert, Sebastian Schmidt, Martin Sauer) 5min 24.62sec 1, New Zealand (Adam Tripp, Tyson Williams, Ian Seymour, Tobias Wehr-Candler, Michael Arms, Sean O'Neill, Chris Harris, Ben Hammond, Ivan Pavich) 5:25.40 2, China (Ziqiang Zhu, Xiaolong Zheng, Xiaoming Qu, Shuqiang Pang, Xiaobing Guo, Dongjian Li, Lin Wu, Zhaowen Sun, Zhang Dechang) 5:28.39 3. New Zealand to contest repechage on Thursday.
Eight: Canada (Emma Darling, Cristy Nurse, Janine Hanson, Rachelle De Jong, Krista Guloien, Ashley Brzozowicz, Darcy Marquardt, Andreanne Morin, Lesley Willie-Thompson) 6min 01.72sec 1, Romania (Roxana Cogianu, Ionelia Zaharia, Maria Diana Bursuc, Ioana Craciun, Adelina Cojocariu, Nicoleta Albu, Camelia Lupascu, Eniko Mironcic, Teodora Stoica) 6:04.05 2, New Zealand (Louise Trappitt, Robyn Munro, Beatrix Heaphy-Hall, Paula Twining, Jessica Loe, Kelsey Bevan, Tarsha Williams, Harriet Austin, Frances Turner) 6:11.81 3. New Zealand to contest repechage on Thursday.