NASEBY, NEW ZEALAND – Japan’s women joined China and Korea in qualifying for the play-offs today after securing their fifth win of the Championship.
Japan confirmed their qualification for the play-offs in the morning session after beating hosts New Zealand 7-5. A steal of three points in the fourth end gave Japan a key advantage in the game however the hosts kept battling, bringing the score back to within a point in the seventh end with a score of two points. However Japan held their nerve and sealed the win in the tenth end to ensure their qualification for the play-offs.
Afterwards, Japan skip, Satsuki Fujisawa, said: “We got a win which is important as it makes things a little bit easier for us. The fourth end was excellent because we made all of our shots perfectly – it was a very good end. But after the seventh end, New Zealand took two points, so it’s not easy to say that the three points in the fourth end was vital, but it helped.”
She added: “At the seventh end New Zealand had a very good end. Thankfully in the eighth end we recovered. New Zealand is a pretty good team, they are the home team and they have been getting better and better throughout this competition and they played very well today.”
The top two teams in the women’s standings, Korea and China, endured a very close game. There was only one point between the teams as they reached the fifth end break with the score 3-2 in China’s favour. It wasn’t until the sixth end that Korea took advantage, their second player, Seon-Yeong Kim, making an important freeze which forced China skip, Bingyu Wang, to attempt a draw behind a guard to limit Korea to a single point. However, she left her stone exposed for an open hit to give Korea a score of four points. This proved to be crucial as Korea retained the lead for the remainder of the game and won 8-6.
In the only other women’s session eight game, Australia needed an extra end to see off a resilient Kazakhstani team who were forced to play with only three players. Lead player, Jane Olga Kim, withdrew from the session as a result of illness and without an alternate had to play with a depleted team.
After Australia stole two points in the first end, Kazakhstan responded with three points in the second. The lead changed hands several times and with the scores poised at 8-8 after the tenth end the game required an extra end. Kazakhstan could not capitalise with the last stone as Australia stole one point to take a 9-8 victory.
In the women’s evening session, the New Zealand women beat trans-Tasman rivals Australia. After stealing four points in the third, fourth and fifth ends, they remained in front for the remainder of the game which ended 9-4 when the Kiwis ran their opponents out of stones in the 10th end.
Japan made it two wins from two today as they beat Korea in another close game. Japan stole single points in both the fourth and fifth ends which gave them a 4-1 advantage at the fifth end break. Japan remained in front for the remainder of the game which finished 6-3 in Japan’s favour.
Kazakhstan faced an almost impossible challenge against China who were looking to bounce back from their earlier defeat to Korea. China skip Bingyu Wang did not play due to illness which meant that Yin Liu skipped the team, Qingshuang Yue moved up to third stones and alternate Jinli Liu played as second. Kazakhstan also suffered again from illness - Jane Olga Kim managed to start the game but had to withdraw almost half way through, leaving Kazakhstan to finish the game with only three players.
China took six points from in the first four ends, Kazakhstan only one, which meant it was relatively straightforward for China to close out their win, ending with four points in the eighth and final end to secure an 11-3 win.
In the only men’s session, China and Korea played one of the tightest games of the day. With both teams unbeaten in the round robin, little could separate them throughout the game. Both found themselves tied at 4-4 going into the eighth end where China managed to score two points. Korea chose to blank the next end but ran out of stones in the tenth end and decided to shake hands and end the game at 6-4 in China’s favour.
The Trans-Tasman derby was a one sided affair as Australia capitalised on New Zealand’s mistakes, winning 8-1 in seven ends. A steal of four points in the fourth end proved to be the catalyst for victory, providing Australia with the confidence to remain in front and seal the win which leaves them joint third in the standings along with Japan.
Kazakhstan continued their disappointing form, losing 15-4 in nine ends to Chinese Taipei. Kazakhstan lead, Ilya Kuznetsov, was suffering from a pre-event injury which forced him to withdraw from the game after the second end, and without an alternate, like their women’s team, they too had to play with a depleted team.
Randolph Shen and his Chinese Taipei team produced some excellent curling, the highlight a score of four points in the sixth end and another steal of two points in the seventh. This win lifted Chinese Taipei to fifth in the standings with a record of 2-3.
It has been a difficult week for Kazakhstan men, making their first appearance at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships. Alexander Orlov, who has skipped the team for the majority of the week, believes the team have gained some vital experience. He said: “Previously I have played in a lot of competitions but all of them were a whole different level to here. This kind of tournament is a completely different world – you need four players in your team who can each make a shot otherwise you can’t win. This is certainly a much higher standard than we’ve played in before. The team played quite good today but we missed some key shots. Chinese Taipei are a good team, they are really confident and still have a chance of reaching the play-offs.”
He added: “It was a great experience this week – it has shown all of us that all of the other teams make very few mistakes. You have to play all your stones, if you are not going to do that it will be difficult to pick up more than one point with hammer. But if you have a look at all of our games, we can score some points - we will learn from this experience and I think we will do better next year.”
Japan had a bye in today’s men’s games and will return to the action tomorrow.