New Zealand will play in both the Men’s and the Mixed Doubles finals of the Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ Men’s curling tournament later today.
The NZ Men won their semi-final against Korea 8-6 this morning to book a place in the final against top qualifiers Japan.
In the first of the Mixed Doubles semi-finals, top-ranked Australia played the New Zealand side of Natalie Campbell and Hans Frauenlob. The crucial end was the seventh, where Eve Belisle made two classy shots to remove NZ stones holding shot. The Kiwis could only score one of the two they needed to tie the score in the last end, and Australia won 8-7.
“That was so tight,” said Belisle after the match, “and both sides played real well. Yes, we both made some good shots in the second-to-last end, and I think that was a bit of a turning point. I’m just so relieved to get the win.”
The New Zealand “A” side of Sean and Bridget Becker had a healthy 8-0 lead halfway through their semi-final against China, only to see the lead evaporate as the Chinese tied it up at 8-8 to force an extra end. Bridget Becker found enough room for a hit with her last stone to secure a 10-8 win and set up a Trans-Tasman final. NZ will play China for bronze.
“It’s never over until it’s over in Mixed Doubles”, said Sean Becker after the game. “With so many stones in play you just need to wick or nudge into the right place and stones can be so hard to shift. But we made it, and looking forward to playing the Aussies!”
In last night’s final Men’s round, losses by two of the top-ranked teams made no change to today’s playoff line-up.
Korea were beaten 6-4 by China last night, and New Zealand lost 8-6 to Australia. Top ranked Japan comfortably headed NZ “A” 9-2 to consolidate their position on the table.
The scores were close in this morning’s Men’s semi-final between New Zealand and Korea, but the local side always looked in control. This left NZ skip Peter de Boer with a simple hit with his last stone of the game to secure their 7-4 win and a place in the final against the Japanese.
New Zealand skip Peter de Boer was a happy man after the match. “We played very well, very consistently, all the way through the game,” he said. “We always felt in a good position and kept putting pressure on their skip. In the middle of the ends Scott and Sean played well, and we kept giving their skip some tough shots just to try and stay in touch. It was good.”
The medal matches at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Curling tournament will start at 3:30pm today (Friday) at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International rink.