Australia in sync for gold glory

TWO months ago, Australia's women's quad sculls crew was in disarray when Pippa Savage was unceremoniously dumped from the boat after in-fighting between the rowers.

After appealing against the decision and being made a "non-travelling reserve", Savage will have to content herself with watching from her lounge room tonight as the new crew rows for gold at Eton Dorney.

Amy Clay, brought into the boat after Savage was sent packing, wasted no time in getting up to speed with the other three girls - Pauline Frasca, Kerry Hore and Dana Faletic.

After finishing a close second in their heat, the crew showed great form to win the repechage and earn a place in tonight's final at 7.20.

It is the third consecutive Olympic quad final for Hore, and the other three girls will compete in their second final.

Two other rowing finals - the men's eight and the women's pair - will be decided tonight.

The men's crew is likely to struggle after managing just fourth in the repechage, but the women's pair of Sarah Tait and Kate Hornsey has a great chance of snaring a medal, although the British pair of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover is a clear favourite to win gold for the host nation.

The Aussies came together only 11 months ago after Tait's crewmate, Phoebe Stanley, suffered cardiac arrhythmia, but showed great form to win their heat last Saturday.

Victory, or at least a medal, would be sweet for Tait, who tasted bitter defeat at Athens in 2004 when teammate Sally Robbins stopped rowing in the women's eight, and also finished last in the eights final in Beijing.

Tonight's finals could be the start of things to come for the Aussies after a host of boats performed well in Monday's heats.

The men's four stole the headlines in an event widely tipped as a showdown between Australia and Great Britain.

Joshua Dunkley-Smith, Drew Ginn, James Chapman and Will Lockwood set a new Olympic record of five minutes 47.06 seconds despite easing down in the last 500m.

The women's double scull of Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley were also impressive, winning their heat and setting a new Olympic mark after the Brits had broken the previous record in an earlier heat.

Pratley said: "We will go out there and give it our best and see where it takes us."

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