NZ first-equal in championships after great start

New Zealand - made up of four curlers from Maniototo and one from Dunedin - has made a great start at the world men's junior championships.

New Zealand is making its debut at the tournament in Canada and, after two rounds, sits first-equal in the standings having won its first two games.

Anton Hood, Ben Smith, Mathew Neilson and Hunter Walker are from Maniototo while reserve Jayden Bishop is from from Dunedin.

Despite a lack of experience at this level, the New Zealand team has not been hit by nerves.

Instead, it has played with some real skill and composure.

In its first game, it took on Italy and won in a nail-biter.

A steal of one point in the eighth end gave New Zealand a 4-2 lead. Italy responded with a score of two points in the ninth end to level the game at 4-4.

In the 10th end, New Zealand had last stone advantage and fourth player Hood held his nerve to play a hit and stay to score the one point that gave his team a 5-4 victory.

Then in the second game yesterday it took on Sweden and the match was even the whole way.

After 10 ends, the game was locked up at 5-5 so it went to
an extra end.

New Zealand stole two points in the extra end of the game for a 7-5 win to continue the history-making success story that means it shares the top spot in the rankings with Scotland.

Neilson said it was a great start for the side.

"It gives us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the tournament. We set our goals to be pretty achievable, and that's to stay in the A division after this year,'' he said.

"So far, it's looking pretty good for us. Here's hoping we can keep the momentum going and keep playing the game as we play it.''


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