Curling: Maniototo retains national title

Nelson Ede, of the Maniototo senior (over-50) team, delivers a stone during the New Zealand...
Nelson Ede, of the Maniototo senior (over-50) team, delivers a stone during the New Zealand Curling Championships at the Dunedin Ice Stadium yesterday.Ede's team finished third overall. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Sean Becker won the battle of the Olympians when he skipped the Maniototo team that retained its national title at the Dunedin Ice Stadium yesterday.

The team of Sean Becker, Scott Becker, Rupert Jones, Warren Dobson and Warren Kearney beat the Combined Dunedin-Auckland team of Dan Mustapic, Hans Frauenlob, Kenny Thomson and Lorne DePape 8-0 in what turned out to be a one-sided final.

It was the clash of the Titans with four members of the New Zealand team that competed at the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006 playing in the final.

Skip Sean Becker (33) was joined by Warren Dobson in the earlier rounds but he could not play in the final because of injury.

But he helped out on Saturday when lead Kearney was playing premier rugby for Pirates.

Olympians in the combined team were Mustapic, Frauenlob and DePape.

Mustapic (48), who grew up in Canada, skipped the New Zealand Pacific Games team in 2000.

All five members of the Maniototo team were in the New Zealand men's team that won a bronze medal at the Pacific championships in Naseby last November.

In the round-robin section of the competition, Mustapic's team had beaten Maniototo 5-4.

Becker knew that his team needed to tighten its game to win the finalThe Maniototo team played with more precision and accuracy in the final and put pressure on its opponents from the start.

There were always stones in the house and Mustapic was forced to play aggressively to clear the decks.

Mustapic's team achieved this on the first three ends and only conceded one stone on the fourth of the scheduled 10 ends.

But it cracked on the fifth end when Becker scored a five to lead 6-0 and take a firm grip on the game.

"No-one missed a shot. We had almost 100% success on this end, Becker said after the game.

"We just tried to play a simple game and keep pressure on our opponents."

Kearney and Jones did this superbly with the front rocks that put pressure on their more experienced opponents.

Mustapic conceded when Maniototo added two more shots on the sixth end and won the game 8-0.

Bridget Becker (Maniototo) retained the women's title when she beat fellow New Zealand representative Natalie Campbell (Auckland) 9-5 in a tense final.

Bridget Becker, the skip of the New Zealand women's team since 2001, had a star-studded team that included Brydie Donald and Marisa Jones who played with her in the New Zealand team at the Pacific championships in Naseby last November.

The other member of the team was Linda Geary.

It was an experienced team because Bridget Becker had finished eighth at the world mixed pairs in 2008 and Donald represented New Zealand at this year's mixed pairs.

But it was not a one-way race because the opposition team skipped by Natalie Campbell included fellow international Kylie Petherick.

The other team members were Lana Williams and Lucienne Langille.

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