NASEBY, NEW ZEALAND – The sixth day of play at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships saw Japan and Australia men reach tomorrow’s play-offs as well as Australia’s women. As a result, China, Korea, Japan and Australia qualify for the men’s play-offs and China, Korea, Japan and Australia qualify for the women’s play-offs.
In the final men’s games of the round-robin, Japan got the better of Chinese Taipei, but needed an extra end to do so. Japan managed to take four points in the first four ends, Chinese Taipei only one point. But Chinese Taipei, also still in the hunt for a play-off spot, bounced back in the second half of the game. With Japan up 4-3 at the fifth end break, they took another single point in the sixth end.
Chinese Taipei blanked the next three ends in an attempt to win the game in the tenth end. However they could only manage two points to take the game into an extra end. With hammer, Japan sealed the victory with two points to make the final score 7-5 which meant they finished third in the standings.
Afterwards, Japan skip, Yusuke Morozumi, said: “It was a very tough game today so we are pleased to get the win. We have lost one game against Korea in the round-robin, so we will be aiming to win our two remaining (best of three) play-off games against them. From the beginning of this Championship we have been gradually getting better and better, so hopefully we can keep this up and do well in the play-offs.”
Talking about what his team have learned this week, he added: “We have experienced some very good games this week against some very good teams, so I think if we make it to the Men’s World Championship we will have good experience behind us having played in this event.”
Australia also secured their place in the play-offs with a win over unbeaten China. Australia, who has steadily improved throughout the week, played confidently throughout the game. With both teams tied at 4-4 in the sixth end, little could separate them throughout the rest of the game. With the score level at 5-5 going into the tenth end, Australia used their last stone advantage to take a single point needed to secure the win and confirm their fourth place position in the standings.
In the final men’s game of the round-robin, Kazakhstan could not find a win in their debut Championship, losing 15-2 to Korea in their heaviest defeat of the week. Although not hitting the performance levels they had reached earlier in the week, Korea still managed to steal nine points in the first four ends. There was no coming back after that and although Kazakhstan managed two points in the fifth end, they decided to shake hands and end the game in the sixth end, leaving Korea in second position in the standings.
In the final women’s games of their double round-robin, New Zealand secured a tie-breaker with Australia after defeating Kazakhstan for the second time this week. The highlight of the game was five points scored by the home team in the fifth end on their way to a 10-5 victory which left them in joint fourth position.
Afterwards, New Zealand skip, Bridget Becker, said: “It wasn’t our best game. They (Kazakhstan) played very well – they have a fantastic draw on them. But we did enough to win so we are lucky.”
Ahead of the evening tie-breaker against Australia, she added: “I think at this point we’re going to keep it simple, make our shots and keep trying to improve our consistency. So we’re just going to take it one shot at a time. We’re definitely getting better. Our first game as a team was in the first game of this Championship, so it’s been hard, but we are improving every game and winning some. Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time and it’s not too late.”
China meanwhile welcomed Bingyu Wang back as skip following an illness yesterday. Although still not fully recovered, she managed to guide her team to a hard fought victory over Japan. After starting the game well, Japan led China 4-1 after the third end. However steals for China of one point in the fifth and another steal of three points in the ninth end helped China get back into this game and eventually win 8-6 and finish top of the standings with a record of nine wins and one loss.
Korea got back to winning ways with a comfortable win over Australia. Their biggest score of the game was four points in the fourth end, which, in addition to steals of one point in the second end and another steal of two points in the seventh end, helped them win the game 9-2 in seven ends and secure them second position in the standings.
Australia joined New Zealand women in fourth position both with three wins and seven losses which meant they had to play a deciding tie-breaker. New Zealand started well, narrowly leading 4-3 after five ends. However it wasn’t until the seventh end when Australia scored three points which gave them the advantage. With another steal of one point in the eighth end, Australia held on to win 8-6 and earn them a spot in the play-offs.