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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Australia and New Zealand stamped their authority on the Oceania Mixed Team Championships Stage 2 at the X-TRM North Harbour Centre in Auckland, after wins over Tahiti and New Caledonia today.
The second stage clashes finished in 5-0 wins for the Oceania heavyweights with competition favourites and hosts New Zealand turning in a disciplined performance against a rapidly improved New Caledonia.
Susannah Leydon-Davis and Niccolo Tagle - the latter back from a knee injury - completed a Mixed Doubles victory over Thomas Lahaut and Cecilia Moussy 21-11, 21-13 to kick-start New Zealand’s campaign.
Dylan Soedjasa downed Loic Mennesson in the Men's Singles 21-14, 21-5 and Deborah Yin - making the step up from junior ranks - was too good for New Caledonia's Wallis and Futuna debutant Dgenyva Matauli, winning both games 21-6.
Lahaut and Mennesson gave a competitive showing pitted against Kevin James Dennerly-Minturn and Oliver Leydon-Davis in the Men's Doubles but after making initial inroads in each game eventually lost 21-7, 21-12.
There was a familiar pattern to the Women's Doubles with Michelle Chan-Ky and Danielle Tahuri overcoming resistance from Soizick Ho-Yagues and Johanna Kou, 21-13, 21-7.
Mennesson's account of the games reflected what was witnessed on the scoreboard.
"In these games the first game is very important for us to get as close to our opponent as possible. We know in the next game it will be physically and mentally much harder.
"But it's very important to play the biggest nations like New Zealand. We all know the level is higher but that is the challenge for us - to raise our standard of Badminton," he said.
Tomorrow, New Caledonia face the might of Australia and Mennesson is under no illusions about the size of the task.
"Australia has a competitive edge and will play harder - it will be tough," Mennesson said.
New Zealand coach Peter Jensen was pleased with his team's showing but in particular the performance of Yin and Tagle.
"Of course, it’s always nice to see debutants go out and perform as well as they are capable of doing. It was a good start for us we're also big favourites so we decided to go out and say, 'Okay, we're going to take this as professionally as possible and deliver what we have to," he said.
New Zealand faces Tahiti tomorrow morning before the trans-Tasman clash with arch-rivals Australia. Jensen insists his team is not getting ahead of itself.
"We're going to go out tomorrow and have two matches with the first one maybe easier than the second one and that’s the big battle for us. We have to build up carefully towards that tie with Australia tomorrow afternoon," Jensen said.
New Zealand's Danish-born coach said he would rotate his team with Asher Richardson and Vicki Copeland likely to see action.
"We had two players not playing today who are part of our plans tomorrow morning. We'll see what team we field when we play Australia," he said.
In the day's other tie, Australia showed they'll be ready for the business end of the competition after sweeping past Tahiti 5-0.
Leanne Choo and the vastly experienced Robin Middleton got Australia off to a great start in the Mixed Doubles beating Leo Cucuel and Aurelie Bouttin 21-8, 21-4.
In the Men's Singles, Tahiti's Quentin Bernaix shone despite losing to Anthony Joe in both games 21-11. Bernaix tested Joe early in both games before Joe pulled away to register a convincing win.
Chloe Segrestan - Tahiti's youngest female player at 14 years of age - was no match for Joy Lai who beat Segrestan convincingly 21-3, 21-3, in a lop-sided Women's Singles clash.
The Men's Doubles produced another win for Middleton and his partner Michael Fariman when they beat Hugo Sautereau and Kyliam Scilloux. It was a lesson for the Tahitian pair who witnessed a range of skill they didn't face in Stage 1 of the competition losing 21-8, 21-9.
Australia rubber-stamped the 5-0 victory when in the Women's Doubles Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen and Gronya Somerville defeated Aurelie Bouttin and Chloe Segrestan 21-6, 21-9.
Sautereau said perspective was required when judging the value of the match.
"Australia is better than Tahiti but in a couple of years we can improve if we keep training as hard as we can. We realise Australia is very competitive and have a lot of top players who compete in the world grand prix and world championships.
The games are very close to begin with because they are not too sure about us as players but after two or three points they settle into their rhythm. But I'm very happy to play against top players and know where I have to improve," he said.
Australia coach Lasse Bundgard said quality won the day for his team as they eye up tomorrow's ties with New Caledonia and New Zealand.
"The tie went as we expected but it was good to get started with a win so I was very happy. Our quality came through in the end and we played almost our whole team so they all got into the game so that’s also good," he said.
Bundgard said his players were excited about the chance to face New Zealand and he also saved some banter for fellow Dane, Peter Jensen.
"The players are desperately trying to win because they haven't won for so long so we're looking forward to getting a bit of a challenge. It’s going to be good but I'm not going to lose to Peter," he said.
Like New Zealand, Australia could rotate their team for their opening match before the trans-Tasman clash at 4pm NZST tomorrow.
"We're going to change things around so everyone has got a match before the New Zealand tie which we're very much looking forward to. But New Caledonia have done very well in this tournament so far and we will focus on that first," he said.
The action starts tomorrow at 10am NZST when Australia plays New Caledonia and hosts New Zealand face Tahiti.
Gold, silver and bronze go on the line at 4pm NZST when Australia take on New Zealand and New Caledonia face Tahiti in a repeat of the Francophone derby of Stage 1.
Oceania Mixed Team Championship Stage 2
Results and Standings available here
Oceania Mixed Team Championship - Stage 2
Thursday 18 February
10.00am NZST Australia v New Caledonia
10.00am NZST New Zealand v Tahiti
4.00pm NZST Australia v New Zealand
4.00pm NZST New Caledonia v Tahiti
(Men): Matthew Chau, Michael Fariman, Anthony Joe, Robin Middleton, Sawan Serasinghe.
(Women): Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, Leanne Choo, Joy Lai, Gronya Somerville.
(Men): David Yao, Sunardi Li and John Conducto.
(Women): Michelle Kremper, Grace Cai, Sarah Cai, Emily Yang.
(Men): Kevin James Dennerly-Minturn, Oliver Leydon-Davis, Asher Richardson, Dylan Soedjasa, Niccolo Tagle.(Women): Michelle Chan Ky, Vicki Copeland, Susannah Leydon-Davis, Anna Rankin, Danielle Tahuri, Deborah Yin.
(Men): Yohan De Geoffroy, Ronan Ho-Yagues, Thomas Lahaut, Loic Mennesson and Fabian Nadmimin.(Women): Soizick Ho-Yagues, Johanna Kou, Dgenyva Matauli and Cecilia Moussy.
(Men): Leo Cucuel, Michael Ajonc, Quentin Bernaix, Hugo Sautereau, Kyliam Scilloux.
(Women): Aurelie Bouttin, Coralie Bouttin, Chloe Segrestan, Pauline Segrestan.
(Men): Lauti Naaniumotu, Metuisela Vainikolo.
(Women): Lusia Ki Taulanga, Litea Lupe Moe Valu Tatafu.
Oceania Men’s and Women’s Team Championships
19-20 February, 2016
Auckland, New Zealand
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