Australia impress early at QRC Winter Games NZ

Anton Hood and Holly Thompson, Team NZL2
Anton Hood and Holly Thompson, Team NZL2

27 Aug 2019 – The opening games of the QRC Winter Games NZ Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament fuelled by Forsyth Barr got under way in Naseby today, and the local sides were in action from the outset.

The New Zealand 2 side of Holly Thompson and Anton Hood faced Italy in the opening session, and the teams exchanged singles early. But the Kiwis scored three in the third end, and then followed it up with a steal of one en route to a crowd-pleasing 9-2 win.

"It felt really good," said Anton Hood. "The ice was a little bit straighter than in training, but the surface was good. Italy played pretty well, but a couple of things just fell our way."

Sweden looked strong as the ran the USA out of stones in the last end to win 7-4.

Sweden's Robin Ahlberg commented after the match, "We had a few bad stones early on, but enough good ones to keep us alive. But yeah, from the third or fourth end we played really good. It felt good."

Australia 2 and Japan were level going into the last end, but the Japanese duo held out to secure a 6-4 win. "We were really nervous," said Misako Den. "But this win gives us more confidence."

The afternoon session saw the first games for the other two New Zealand teams. Courtney Smith and Hamish Walker for NZL3 created opportunities but couldn't capitalise on them as they went down 9-to a sharp Korean side. Precision shotmaking from Finland allowed them to deny Jess and Ben Smith a comeback win for NZL1, with the Finns scoring an 8-6 win with the last stone of the match.

The standout performance of the afternoon session was from Australia 1, who beat Canada 11-3 in seven ends.

"The first four ends were pretty tight," said Australia's Dean Hewitt, "but the angles just worked in our favour for a couple of shots. We got a bit fortuate with that, and then Tahli (Gill) made a couple of great last shots that let us score multiples."

NZL2 scored their second win of the day in the evening session, beating Sweden 8-7 in an extra end game. Japan also picked up their second win, 7-3 over Italy, and the USA headed Australia 2 by 8-5.

Pool games continue until Friday, when the top three from each pool will qualify for playoffs. The medal games will be held on Saturday afternoon.