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Canada's Scott Frandsen, left, and David Calder row the men's pair semi-final during the 2012 Summer Olympics in Dorney, England on Wednesday, August 1, 2012.The Canadian Press

It wasn't much of a race, but it was all David Calder and Scott Frandsen needed.

In Wednesday's first semi-final in the men's pairs, Canadians Calder and Frandsen started slowly, kicked into gear and finished third to earn a spot in Friday's Olympic final.

The New Zealand duo of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond maintained their status as the gold medal favourites by finishing a comfortable first by more than six seconds. Calder and Frandsen came in third and knew there was more they could have done.

"Scott and I have an incredible rhythm," said Calder. "With the weight of the head wind slowing the race course down a little bit, we don't feel like we hit that invincible rhythm.

"(Wednesday's race) was good enough to get us through and certainly see Italy take a good swat at us. But when Scott and I are on, and we will be Friday, you'll see that flow," Calder added. "You'll see that difference in the way the boat looks and the way the boat runs."

Frandsen was asked about New Zealand whether it's second dominating result here had proven conclusively which pairs boat was the best. He replied:  "We know they're a fast pair. They're there, but we're focused on ourselves … Today wasn't out best effort. We were working too hard for our speed. At the Olympics that might knock our confidence but we know that will switch around din the next 48 hours and get back to our rhythm and our ease and full confidence."

"As we say, we're nowhere near the panic button," insisted Calder.

New Zealand's winning time was 6:48.11, Italy was second then Canada at 6:56.47. If that put added pressure on the Kiwis to win Friday, Murray wasn't willing to admit it in the slightest.

"We feel it's better to be in our position," he said. "We knew we can win. The other boats don't know if they can beat us."

Calder and Frandsen won silver in the pairs four years ago in Beijing.