New Zealand’s unbeaten run ended at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Men’s curling tournament last night, but a win this morning put them back into pole position as teams jockey for three playoff spots.
Five teams remain in the hunt for the four semi-final places in the Mixed Doubles.
In last night’s Men’s sixth round Japan halted the Kiwi charge with a 9-7 victory, a steal of two in the ninth end being pivotal. Korea headed Australia 6-1 and the New Zealand “A” side came close to their first win of the tournament, falling 6-5 to China. An attempted split of a guard to score two on the last stone of the game came up agonisingly short.
Afterwards NZ “A” skip Hans Frauenlob was philosophical about the outcome. “We thought about the easy option to draw for one and force an extra end,” he said, “but they would have had last stone there. We saw the chance for the win and felt we had to go for it.”
New Zealand got their campaign back on track this morning with an 8-5 win over NZ “A”, who are improving with each game. Japan reversed their first round loss to Korea by 8-4, and Australia put in the big result they have threatened with an 8-4 win over the Chinese.
Australian skip Hugh Millikin reflected, “We haven’t been playing too badly, we’ve just had the odd miss at the wrong time. The competition here is outstanding, so if you’re not on top of your game or you miss a shot, you pay. Today we made the big shots at the right time.”
New Zealand now has 6 wins, Korea and Japan 5, China 3, Australia 2 and NZ “A” 0.
In yesterday evening’s fifth round of the Mixed Doubles tournament China overwhelmed Australia “A” 10-0 and Japan had a strong 9-3 win against the English. The New Zealand “A” side of Bridget and Sean Becker piled on 10 points in the first three ends against compatriots Natalie Campbell and Hans Frauenlob, eventually winning 11-8.
Following their emphatic win, China’s Liu Sijia said, “After our previous game we just examined and learned from our mistakes and we put that into practice this afternoon.”
Today’s sixth round saw a form reversal for NZ “A” as they slumped to a 9-1 loss to Japan. China led throughout to beat England 9-4 and Australia ensured Australia “A” ended the tournament winless after a 6-4 result.
Australia “A” had four matches that could have gone either way but Dave Thomas said, “We just couldn’t finish games off. But we’ve really enjoyed the tournament nonetheless.”
Curling at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ continues at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International rink this evening, and round robin matches will conclude in the Men’s Fours and Mixed Doubles late tomorrow. Semi-finals and finals will be played on Friday.