New Zealand's Olympic and world champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray earned victory at the Lucerne World Cup on their 2015 debut ©Getty Images

New Zealand’s all-conquering men’s pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond remain just that after making a late start to their season at the World Cup III in Lucerne - the last big regatta before the World Championships are due to take place on Lake Aiguebelette in France from August 30 until September 6.

The world and Olympic champions were made to work, hoever, to maintain a lead they took at the halfway point by Britain’s European champions James Foad and Matt Langridge, who took silver ahead of Serbia.

Another of New Zealand’s London 2012 gold medallists, Mahe Drysdale, re-stated his dominance in the men’s single sculls, with Mindaugus Griskonis of Lithuania taking silver and Britain’s resurgent London 2012 bronze medallist Alan Campbell earning bronze on a day when the Czech Republic’s world champion Ondrej Synek could only finish fifth.

In the women’s double sculls - where Britain’s Olympic 2012 champion Katherine Grainger and her partner Vicky Thornley had dropped out of the running for the A final the day before when the latter caught a crab in the semi-final - victory went to the New Zealand pairing of Eve McFarlane and Zoe Stevenson, winners at the last World Cup, who narrowly held off Yuliya Bichyk and Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus.

The New Zealanders saved their challenge to the second half of the race after France, and then Australia’s World Best Time holders Olympia Aldersley and Sally Kehoe, had led.

McFarlane and Stevenson’s power proved decisive in the final 30m, with Australia taking silver and Belarus bronze.

New Zealand's Eve McFarlane and Zoe Stevenson move towards victory in the women's double sculls at the Lucerne World Cup
New Zealand's Eve McFarlane and Zoe Stevenson move towards victory in the women's double sculls at the Lucerne World Cup ©Getty Images

Britain’s flagship men’s eight maintained its bragging rights over Germany, the Olympic champions - but only by 0.08 seconds - on a day when their team-mates Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, the Olympic women’s pairs champions also maintained their pre-eminence.

The British crew, beaten by Germany in last month’s European Championships, restored the balance at the second World Cup in Varese and the recent Henley Regatta, and they just kept their noses in front.

Heats wins on the opening day earned Britain and Germany direct places in the final, and Britain took a marginal early lead which they managed to retain even when they were under heavy pressure over the final 250m.

New Zealand's crew of 2014 under-23 world champions took bronze.

“In the last 500m our cox was shouting for more,” said Britain’s double Olympic champion Pete Reed.

“I didn’t look out of the boat and we didn’t know who was first.

“This medal means a lot.

"To win on the lake of the gods is great.

 “Racing at Henley made our preparation special.”

Germany’s Richard Schmidt said: “It’s a bit disappointing not to win.

“But we lost too much in the first 1,000 metres.

“At the end I could feel it would be really close, but we just didn’t make it.”

Olympic champions Germany (front) competes with Britain in the men's eight during the World Cup in Lucerne
Olympic champions Germany (front) competes with Britain in the men's eight during the World Cup in Lucerne ©Getty Images

There was another key win for Britain in the women’s pair, but their Olympic and European champions Glover and Stanning, despite staying well ahead of New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, did not see their opponents drop finally out of contention until a late mistake.

The Kiwis then then went on to race in the eight.

Like Germany and Britain in the men’s eight final, Canada - coxed by 55-year-old Leslie Thompson-Willie - and New Zealand took direct paths to the women’s eight final, avoiding the previous day’s repechage,

Canada came through for gold, with second-placed New Zealand’s earning their first World Cup medal in the women’s eight and Britain taking bronze.

Croatia’s brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic maintained their domination in the men’s double sculls – the event they moved to last year after being in the men’s quadruple sculls.

Having won last year’s world title in a world best time, they are looking like very strong favourites to defend that title, and another big win on the Rotsee did nothing to disturb that feeling.

The Croatians were already significantly ahead after just 40 strokes rowed, and by the halfway point, they had a three second lead over Marcel Hacker and Stephen Krueger of Germany, who combined this year for the first time and won the first World Cup and European title.

But in their first meeting with the world champions the Germans got a reality check.

They took silver, with bronze going to Australia's James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff.

Australia’s bronze medallist in the women’s single sculls, Kim Crow, followed up her massive win in the last World Cup in Varese – her first big outing of the year – with another decisive win, holding off the Olympic champion from the Czech Republic, Mirka Knapkova, who had warmed up for this with a big win at Henley.

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