NZ still in contention at WQE despite loss

Oona Kauste (Finland) at 2018 European Championships
Oona Kauste (Finland) at 2018 European Championships. Photo © WCF / Stephen Fisher

20 Jan 2019 – Unbeaten Korea and New Zealand met in the Men’s morning feature match on the third day of the World Curling Qualifying Event in Naseby today. Neither side showed their best form as both missed opportunities to dominate.

Eventually Korean skip SooHyuk Kim tapped back a New Zealand stone with the final shot of the match to score 3 points, and so claim a 7-5 victory.

“We made it!” was his comment after the game. “It was not really the proper process to make this win, but we just did our best.”

England also kept their clean sheet with a 7-5 win against Poland, and the Netherlands had a solid 10-3 result over Brazil.

Denmark took out the remaining match of the session, beating Australia 5-3 to claim their first win of the tournament.

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“Today we found the [ice] speed from the beginning, it’s very fast and very nice,” said their skip Ulrik Damm. “Yesterday we were too short, and we clipped the guards each time. So today we found the right ice [line] and the right speed. We made a lot of pressure on the Australian team today.”

The middle session of the day was the fourth round for the Women’s teams.

China claimed their fourth straight win with a 12-1 victory over Estonia, as did Finland with a 9-4 win against Poland.

Finland’s skip Oona Kauste was feeling positive.

“It feels really good to play right now, everything works pretty good,” she said. “Hopefully we’re playing like this the rest of the week – maybe this game against Poland wasn’t our best one, but I think if we continue playing like we played yesterday against New Zealand or the other games that’s pretty good.”

Brazil stole three consecutive ends through the middle of their game against Hong Kong, and then tapped an opposition stone back just far enough with the last shot of the game to win 7-5 and claim their second 'W'.

In the remaining Women’s game, Hungary fought their way back from a steal of 4 points by New Zealand. Dorottya Palansca’s Hungarian side won the last three ends for an epic 8-6 win.

She remarked afterwards, “It was a really, really tight game actually, the team from New Zealand played very well. They are very good, so it was so exciting.”

“My team just missed a lot of shots on that end [where NZ stole 4]. But after that, we just played better and better.”

In the Men’s evening session, England and Korea also recorded their fourth wins to keep their perfect records intact.

Andrew Reed’s English side put on their best showing of the tournament to beat Denmark 9-2, and Korea eventually overcame Poland 10-5.

The Netherlands headed Australia 10-5, and New Zealand had a 9-3 win against Brazil.

“That was a much better-executed game,” said Kiwi skip Scott Becker. “We certainly played a bit better than we did against Korea.”

“I was a wee bit disappointed in this morning’s game that we weren’t playing to our potential, but the fact that we went to the last rock was good because we still stuck in there.”

With three rounds to play the Men’s leaderboard has a clear division between the top and bottom halves. England and Korea have 4 wins apiece, closely followed by the Netherlands and New Zealand on 3. Denmark and Poland have 1 win each, while Australia and Brazil remain winless.

China and Finland lead the Women’s competition with 4 wins each, followed by Hungary on 3 wins and Brazil on 2. Estonia, Hong Kong and Poland are on one win, with New Zealand still seeking their first.The round-robin competition continues with three sessions each day until Tuesday. The top three Men’s and Women’s sides will play off for the two World Championship places next Wednesday.