Hard work for favourites at Nationals

Brydie Donald
Brydie Donald won her first National title as skip

4 Jul 2011 – The pre-tournament favorites won the Men's and Women's titles at the 2011 NZ Open Curling Championships in Dunedin this month, but they had to work hard for them.

Brydie Donald's side trailed for much of the match before stealing an extra end win over Wendy Becker's Senior Women's team.

On the neighbouring sheet, Peter de Boer's composite squad pushed Sean Becker all the way before the latter took his 5th consecutive national title.

Round Robin

The 8 Men's sides were in 2 pools when the tournament got under way on Friday 2 July. Peter de Boer, with Iain Craig and 2010 NZ players Kenny Thomson and Kris Miller, comfortably won their three pool matches. They were joined in the playoff rounds by Charlie McLeod whose local side suprised many, when they first beat Sam Miller's NZ Junior champions and then recorded and extra end win over Peter Becker's NZ Senior Men's team.

Sean Becker, with brother Scott at third, Phil Dowling and Dan Thurlow was untroubled in scoring a 3-0 record in the other Men's pool against the Auckland teams of Al Langille and Kieran Ford and Alexandra's John Campbell. The other semi-final spot went to the experienced Langille side, who needed a perfectly weighted last stone draw from the skip to head off NZ Junior runner-up Ford.

The 3 Women's teams were joined by the NZ 2012 Junior Olympic mixed squad in the preliminary rounds. Brydie Donald, with NZ teammates Marisa Jones and Natalie Campbell, and relative rookie Jess Zinsli went through unbeaten. Wendy Becker, the Youth Olympic team and Liz Matthews all had a 1 win - 2 loss record.


All of the semi-final matches finished with decisive scorelines. Donald bet the young Olympians 8-4, and Wendy Becker reversed her first round loss against Liz Matthews when she took their semi 10-3.

In the Men's semis Sean Becker beat McLeod 11-2, and Peter de Boer headed Langille 9-1.


Sean Becker and Peter de Boer
Peter de Boer has the house as Sean Becker looks on

By contrast both finals were last stone thrillers. Peter de Boer found himself two down at the 5th end break, but immediately after it he capitalised on a rare error from Becker to tie the match up at 4-4. They traded singles in the next two ends, and in the 9th end a measure gave Becker two shots. de Boer lined up his hammer stone on the last two down, and needing a tough cross-house double and stick to force the extra end. It didn't come off, and Sean Becker's side secured the title with a 9-5 scoreline.

Brydie Donald found her side trailing throughout much of the Women's final, with neither side able to make the most of a large number of stones in play. With Wendy Becker one up on the last, Brydie Donald need a 2 with hammer to take the match but she could manage just the single and so they went to an extra end. With her final stone Donald found form with an angled runback to lie shot behind cover. There was no way in for Becker's hammer stone, and so Brydie Donald had her 7th national title, but her first as skip.

At the prizegiving, winning Men's skip Sean Becker complimented Dunedin Ice Stadium on the standard of the playing surface. "It's the  best ice I've ever curled on in Dunedin," he said. He also praised the ever-improving standard of play and depth of talent at the Nationals, saying that the bar was being raised each year.