Familiar faces on the podium at Nationals

Interview with National coach Peter de Boer. Video © ODT - The South Today / Shannon Thomson

14 Jun 2021 – Sean Becker skipped his team of Warren Dobson, Hamish Walker, Jayden Apuwai-Bishop and Rob McSkimming to the gold medal at the 2021 NZ Championships to win his 11th title.

However, he was pipped by his sister Bridget who led Natalie Thurlow, Holly Thompson, Jen Stewart and Ruby Kinney to a clean sweep of the Women's round robin as she recorded her 12th championship win.

With just three Women's teams entered, the sides played a double round-robin. Bridget Becker recorded a tight 7-6 extra-end win over Team Courtney Smith in their first meeting of the weekend, but had more comfortable margins in their remaining games to claim the gold with a clean sweep.

The seven Men's teams were whittled down to four semi-finalists by Sunday morning. These resulted in comparatively comfortable wins to Becker, who headed Team Dave Watt 8-2, and to Hood who accounted for Team Garion Long 8-1.

The Men's final was a tense affair. Becker led Anton Hood's side 5-2 as they started the final end, with Hood having last stone advantage – and the latter held the three shots he needed to force an extra end with one stone each to play. But Becker then drew behind guards to take shot and Hood was unable to remove it. Becker's 6-2 win meant silver for Hood, Ben Smith, Brett Sargon and Hunter Walker.

Garion Long, Benjamin Frew, Kieran Grieve and Ian Ford scored two points in the last end of the bronze medal match to squeak past Dave Watt 6-5.

Courtney Smith, Mhairi-Bronté Duncan, Rachael Pitts and Rebecca Long won the Women's silver medal playoff against Grace Apuwai-Bishop, Temika Apuwai-Bishop, Lucy Neilson and Charlotte Hutton-Atkins 8-4.

The Wendy Becker Sportsmanship Awards, voted on by the players, went to Holly Thompson and Ian Ford.

Bridget Becker believed that her side's "no pressure" outlook aided their performance. "We just came into the tournament wanting to enjoy our games and have some fun," she said. "But at the same time, give it our best shot – and whatever happens, happens."

Her sentiments were echoed by brother Sean. "We knew we were going to come up against some really good sides. So we just wanted to play our best, and enjoy it. We started a bit scratchy, had some really tight games and got thumped by Dave [Watt] early on, but eventually got there."