Just edging out Sykes, the Kawasaki man can nonetheless be satisfied to score a top five result having dropped as low as eighth place at one stage in the race. Seemingly struggling with his wrist injury as he slipped behind mid-way through the race, Sykes nonetheless battled back into contention to get his title campaign off to a solid start.
Similarly impressive was team-mate Baz, who – like Davies – put in a performance that belied an otherwise average build up to the race, the Frenchman finishing just on the tail of Sykes on his first visit to Phillip Island.
It was a frustrating race for Honda, however, as Haslam couldn't sustain his feisty early form, the Briton dropping from fourth to seventh in the final three laps.
Even so, he fared better than team-mate Jonathan Rea, who spent his race dicing down the order with Leon Camier. Though he would eventually prevail to claim eighth, he will be concerned to be more than 17secs off the leaders by the chequered flag.
With Checa and Melandri's crash, together with an early technical retirement for Davide Giugliano, depleting a 20-strong field, Max Neukirchner was able to claim a welcome top ten result on his WSBK
return, ahead of rookie Jules Cluzel on the second of the Suzukis.
In his first WSBK
race for seven years, Ivan Clementi was a fine 12th, with Alexander Lundh, Glenn Allerton and Jamie Stauffer completing the points paying positions in 13th, 14th and 15th.