TOM JAMES' medal bid ended in disappointment on a windswept Dorney Lake as his GB pair placed sixth in their world championship final.
The 22-year-old Chester rower's boat raised home hopes by sitting third after a minute of their 2,000m six-boat final on Eton's 2012 Olympic regatta course, tracking Australia and China.
But defending world champions New Zealand were feet in front at 500m, and King's Chester product James and Oxford Blue partner Smith were back to fifth at half-way as Germany surged into the reckoning.
GB, at 36 strokes a minute, pushed to try and go with Canada's move from the back of the field before 1500m, but were unable to move with the north Americans as they pushed their way into medal contention.
Australia, who had only just held off the Brits' finishing surge in the semi-final, were setting a remorseless pace in the fast tailwind conditions to lead by two lengths hitting the last quarter.
And though the Kiwis mounted a massive finishing assault that closed them right down in front of the packed grandstands, they held on for gold by half a length with GB out of the medals four lengths back.
Canada won a three-way fight for bronze two lengths up on GB, crossing feet in front of China, and Germany a length and half back on the Kiwis.
It was a deflating end for Cambridge Blue James who nearly beat the Kiwis when he took silver at last month's World Cup regatta in Lucerne.
They almost beat the Aussies in similarly rough water in the semi and comfortably beat the Germans to raise hopes of a medal, but couldn't quite stay with the pace this time.
A place in the final of an event won four times by Olympic legends Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent still represents a big achievement for a duo only put together two months ago.
James will now return to Cambridge as President of next year's Light Blues crew in his fourth and last attempt to win the Boat Race against Oxford.
But he can take the pair on again next summer at the worlds in Munich with Beijing Olympic qualifying places up for grabs for the top six.