Kiwis upbeat despite bronze medal loss

2018 PACC bronze medal match
Handshakes for Warren Dobson and JeongJae Lee after the bronze medal game. Photo © WCF / Tom Rowland

12 Nov 2018 – They say it's a game of millimetres, and that was never more true than in the Men's bronze medal match at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2018 in Gangneung, Korea

A feathered guard late in the game was all that stood between New Zealand and their first Pacific-Asia medal since 2011.

Some outstanding shot-making from the Kiwis had Korea on the back foot. An in-off to remove Korea's shot stone in the fifth end scored them a pair, and then a surgical removal to take three in the eighth end earned them a 3-point lead going into the ninth.

But the match turned when NZ's final shot of the ninth end to remove at least one of two Korean counters feathered that guard. 

Korean skip SooHyuk Kim made no mistake to draw his hammer stone in to tie the game up, and his side then played a textbook final end to steal and take the bronze 9-8.

However, New Zealand skip Scott Becker was certainly not downcast.

When asked if he felt his team had exceeded expectations he replied, "The first thing I had told the team was to have fun and don't have too many expectations."

The Kiwis had come into the tournament with only a few brief hours of practice together, and no competition games as a team. "I was surprised we were so competitive," he continued. "Not due to lack of ability, but by how quickly as a team we rebounded from our first bad defeat to Japan, to change our approach and win five on the trot thereafter."

"To then only miss beating those top three teams by only inches and millimetres later on is a real confidence builder."

"I am proud of the guys, and they should be proud of themselves," he concluded.

Earlier, New Zealand were left very few opportunities in their semi-final against Japan, the Japanese winning 8-3. They continued that form into the final to take the gold medal match 9-7 against China.

Both finalists qualified for the World Men's Championship 2019. Korea and New Zealand will have a second chance to do so at January's World Qualifying Event in Naseby, NZ.

The Korean Women stole 3 in the last end of their gold medal against Japan to win 12-8, both teams qualifying for the World Women's Championship. China headed Hong Kong 8-3 for the Women's bronze, and those two sides also have another chance at the WQE in Naseby.

NZ to play Japan in Pacific-Asia semis

Scott Becker, NZ v Chinese Taipei
Scott Becker, NZ v Chinese Taipei. Photo © WCF / Tom Rowland

8 Nov 2018 – The New Zealand Men's curling team have a shot at qualifying for their first World Championship in 7 years when they play Japan tomorrow in the semi-finals of the Pacific-Asia Championships.

The Kiwis suffered a heavy defeat to the Japanese in their opening match, but NZ skip Scott Becker wasn't reading much into the early result.

"After a shaky start, we just knuckled down and focussed on doing the simple things well," he said. "It was hard playing a televised game first up as a brand new team, but maybe it was the best thing for us."

"This young pair [Simon Neilson and Anton Hood] are playing extremely well, and the future of NZ curling is looking bright. The whole team has stepped up after that first struggle against Japan. They've really raised the bar."

After their opening loss, New Zealand won five games on the trot – including last-stone victories over both Australia and defending champions Korea. They dropped their last two round robin games, but by then their semifinal spot was secure.