Naseby, 26 August 2011 – There was plenty of tension at the Maniototo Curling International ice rink today as the sides fought for a place in the semi-finals of the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games.
The Mixed Doubles round robin ended with a real log jam at the top of the leaderboard. Five teams finished with a 5 win - 3 loss record, forcing a tiebreaker to find who would be the four to go through to the semi-finals and who would miss out.
The sixth round of the Men’s competition was played yesterday afternoon.
Australia played the New Zealand Juniors and led from the start, up 8-1 after five ends. On their last delivery of the sixth the Australian team set up a guard to protect their shot stone and two other stones in the house. Sam Miller delivered a beautiful hit and roll to get shot and take 1 point. In the seventh the Juniors had shot stone with four Australian stones also in the house and delivered their last stone to sit front of house. The Australians last stone was tight and hit the guard to give the Juniors a steal. The Juniors last shot of the eighth was too heavy and finished at the back of the house, so the Aussies picked up a 3 and an 11-3 win.
The New Zealand Senior Men played Japan, and they scored their first points of the game in the fifth end to trail the Japanese 2-7 at the break. In the sixth the Seniors had shot and another in the house, and set up a guard on their last delivery. Japan took out the Seniors’ second stone leaving them with shot and a consolation steal. Japan came back with 4 points over the next two ends to take the match 11-3. David Greer from the New Zealand team put it down to opportunity. “We had our chances – they gave us a lot and we took one or two but missed quite a few too. The 3 pointers that we lost hurt us. There shouldn’t have been that big a margin on the scoreboard the way the teams played. The end that we did play really well we managed to create a steal and nearly stole two.”
The New Zealand Men played China in a gripping, low-scoring game with four blank ends and the Chinese led 4-2 after nine ends. In an exciting tenth end New Zealand had the advantage of the hammer and needed to score at least 2 points to stay in the game. On their last delivery China managed to take out the New Zealand shot and leave their stone in the house. New Zealand attempted to raise their stone back onto shot stone but missed, so China had the steal and a 5-2 win. Korea had the bye.
The Mixed Doubles teams were first up on the final day of round robin events. New Zealand played Australia in an exciting match watched by a good number of spectators. Australia’s 4 points in the fifth end helped them out to a 9-6 lead coming into the last end. On Australia’s last delivery of the eighth they delivered a long run back to reduce the number of New Zealand stones in the house. They tried to get two stones out but only managed to get one. New Zealand had shot with two stones in the house and delivered their last stone to also sit in the house and take 3 and tie the scores up at 9 all. Australia made no mistake with hammer in the extra end and picked up the point they needed for a 10-9 victory.
|Hungary's Gyorgy Nagy (above) and Ildiko Szekeres have qualified for the Mixed Doubles semi-finals. Photo © Katya Kiiskinen / WCF|
Finland trailed throughout, their match with Japan, and after seven ends were behind 3-6. In the eighth and final end the Finns had five stones in the house but the Japanese pair held shot. On Japan’s last delivery they hit their guard with their stone sitting right on the front of the house. It was a difficult last shot for Finland who needed to secure 3 points to draw or 4 points to win. Paavo Kuosmanen's stone failed to curl and left Japan’s shot stone in place, so Japan had a 7-3 victory. Japanese player Tomoko Tomabechi said “We are relieved we won today’s game and can now go to the semi-final tomorrow. We want to challenge Switzerland because they beat us last time and we want to enjoy the game.”
Hungary started strongly against China, gaining a 5-0 lead after the first three ends and ahead 6-2 after six. Another double in the seventh game them an 8-2 result. The Latvia - USA match stayed close until Latvia picked up a 4 in the sixth, and they then stole the next to take the win 8-4. Switzerland had the bye.
When the teams came off the ice the pressure went on to Chief Umpire Pat Edington. After looking at head-to-head results and total draw shot distances it was Hungary, Switzerland and Japan who qualified directly for Sunday morning's semi-finals. New Zealand and Latvia will play a tiebreaker tomorrow to determine who joins them in the playoff rounds.
The Women’s Fours played the second round of the morning. China had won all of their previous games, so their opponents Japan had plenty of crowd support. It was close throughout, 5 all after the sixth end and 7 all at the end of the ninth. Japan had the advantage of the hammer as they went into the tenth. There were two stones of each colour in the house as China delivered their final stone. Their hit and roll was slightly heavy but took shot stone. The Japanese skip delivered beautiful draw weight on her last delivery to take shot and win the game 8-7 to much cheering in the gallery.
The New Zealand Women played Korea, and the Koreans got off to a flying start with 5 points in the second end. A 3 in the sixth end got the Kiwis back in the running. New Zealand trailed by one at 6-7 going into the eighth, but stole one to came back to 7 all after Korea’s last stone failed to find shot. Korea got a double in the ninth, and New Zealand fought back to do the same in the tenth to force an extra end.
Korea were sitting two as NZ skip Brydie Donald delivered her last stone, but it was narrow and Korea won the game 11-9. The Korean team members commented, “The New Zealand Women’s Team is a good team and they are getting better and better - our team found them difficult to play. The Naseby ice rink is very good. I think this game and the competition in general is very good.” The New Zealand Juniors had the bye.
This afternoon in the Men’s Fours last round robin draw the teams will battle it out to determine the semi-final line-up. China will play the New Zealand Juniors, Korea take on the New Zealand Men and the New Zealand Seniors play Australia. Japan has the bye.
The Women’s Fours round robin concludes tonight with Korea playing Japan, while the New Zealand Juniors have the daunting task of taking on China. The New Zealand Women have the bye.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continues tomorrow (Saturday 27 August) with an 8:00am Mixed Doubles tie breaker between New Zealand and Latvia. The winner goes through to the semi-finals while the loser is eliminated. The Women’s Fours and Men’s Fours semi-finals will also be held later in the day.