AUCKLAND - Despite New Zealand's blitz start to the first Test against England, rain threatened to deny them any reward with only 17 balls bowled on day three in Auckland on Saturday.

It left players frustrated after the home side looked to be in total control at the end of the first day at 175 for three after rolling England for mere 58 in their first innings. Persistent showers in the two days since have meant only 25 overs have been bowled in which New Zealand advanced their score to 233 for four to lead England by 175.

"It's obviously been a pretty frustrating couple of days," New Zealand quick Tim Southee said, emerging from the dressing room after the umpires gave up all hope of resuming play on Saturday more than five hours after the rain set in.

"We're lucky the game's advanced so that's one positive from the rain, but it is very frustrating the amount of time we've spent sat in the changing room."

The Test has been totally dominated by New Zealand with Trent Boult taking six for 32 and Southee four to 25 as they destroyed the England innings inside 94 minutes on the first morning. Kane Williamson set up the Black Caps reply with a century -- his 102 being a record 18th Test hundred by a New Zealand batsman -- and Henry Nicholls has followed with an unbeaten 52.

"The position we're in now is a good one," Southee said with New Zealand having a substantial lead and six wickets in hand. But with the weather expected to clear over the remaining two days, he said New Zealand would need to review how they approach the remainder of the Test to get a result.  "The worst of the weather has hopefully gone so we'll come up with a plan for the next couple of days tomorrow," he said.

"As bowlers, we know they're quality players and they're probably not going to make those same mistakes in the second innings."

The rain has, however, helped England's cause and their batting coach Graham Thorpe held out hope of escaping with a draw. "The weather has given the guys a little bit of a glimmer," he said. "We're well capable of batting well in the second innings and saving the game."




(OVERNIGHT: 229-4):

J Raval c Bairstow b Anderson 3

T Latham c Woakes b Broad 26

K Williamson lbw Anderson 102

R Taylor c Woakes b Anderson 20

H Nicholls not out 52

B Watling not out 18

EXTRAS: (lb7, w5) 12

TOTAL: (for 4 wickets; 95 overs) 233

FOW: 1-8, 2-92, 3-123, 4-206

BOWLING: Anderson 21-7-56-3, Broad 21-6-37-1, Overton 18-7-43-0, Woakes 23-8-55-0 (1w), Ali 12-1-35-0

TOSS: New Zealand

UMPIRES: Paul Reiffel (AUS), Bruce Oxenford (AUS)

TV UMPIRE: Marais Erasmus (RSA)

MATCH REFEREE: Richie Richardson (WIS)