SPECTACULAR FINISHES KEEPS SCOTS IN WORLD CHAMPS HUNT
Scotland’s Team Mouat made another major statement at the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championships when they stunned hosts Canada in front of a capacity crowd in Lethbridge to enhance their chances of reaching the play-offs.
A three at the final end was their second big finish of the day, following on from scoring a four at the last to see off a dogged Chinese team who had threatened to create a shock of their own, having won only two of their previous matches.
Having previously inflicted the only defeat of the competition so far on defending champions Sweden, Bruce Mouat and team-mates Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan have once again proved they will have every chance if they can get into knockout stages, having produced a podium finish when claiming bronze medals on their World Championship debut last year and their efforts were hailed by their coach Alan Hannah.
“They had to work for the win against China and then played a great tempo game against Koe in a packed house,” he said.
“It’s been a brilliant day at the office, the guys played fantastically well and thoroughly deserved their win against high class opposition and are well and truly on track and looking forward to tomorrow.”
In a match they could not afford to lose, the Scots had opened with a two against the Chinese, but saw that advantage immediately cancelled out and in a tense encounter neither side was able to register more than one at any end until their opponents produced a two at the ninth to move threateningly into the lead for the first time.
Two perfectly judged shots by Hardie, with a take out to lie shot on the button and then a freeze onto that stone, applied pressure to Chinese skip Qiang Zou and after he left Mouat with a chance to hit and roll to lie three with his final stone, he then failed with his attempt at a raise which meant the Scottish skip did not have to play his final stone as they registered four to win it 9-6.
They then faced Kevin Koe, the 2010 and 2016 World Champion, whose rink had beaten Olympic champions USA earlier in the day, knowing they would have to up their game.
The intiative was claimed early on when they countered Koe’s single at the opening end with a two at the next, then a steal to lead 3-1 and they forced the Canadians at the next, only to then concede a two at the fifth and fall 4-3 behind at the midway break.
After two blanked ends, a Scottish two at the seventh was matched by their opponents at the next, before an apparently nerveless Mouat coolly took advantage of an under pressure Koe, who had 12 seconds left on the time clock as he delivered his final stone, having left him the toughest of chances at the last to produce a spectacular raise double take out to take a three and claim an 8-6 win.
“Both were really tough games,” the delighted Scottish skip said afterwards.
“In the China game we were getting a bit frustrated actually, because we were setting up really good ends, we were just not getting rewarded with a multiple score. We were getting forced quite a lot even though we had shot.
“That’s something we really can’t be too bothered with now because we managed to get the win, but we definitely learned from it and took that into the Canada game where we set up a lot of good opportunities for ourselves, so we’re really happy.”
He was obviously particularly pleased with the way they finished it.
“We set up a really good end,” he said.
“We were creating a lot of chances for ourselves and we forced Kevin into a really tough shot with his last and fortunately for us he was a bit heavy and gave me a nose double, so it was good.”
He knows, however, that there is still substantial work to do against an improving German team and then in a potentially decisive match with Italy, who are also in the play-off mix.
“This definitely sets up for the final day. We need two wins and that would hopefully see us through,” said Mouat.
“Germany have had some good wins this week, so we’re going to have to come out and not lose that concentration that we had tonight and play well so that we can hopefully go into our last game against Italy knowing that if a win qualifies us we’ll just play our hearts out.”
Bruce Mouat, born Edinburgh, lives Edinburgh, age 24
Grant Hardie, born Dumfries, lives Glasgow, age 27
Bobby Lammie, born Dumfries, lives Glasgow, age 22
Hammy McMillan, born Stranraer, lives Glasgow, age 26
Ross Whyte (Alternate), born York, lives Stirling, age 20
Results: 6W 4L
Scotland v Russia 8-2
Scotland v Switzerland 4-5
Scotland v Netherlands 4-5
Scotland v USA 8-9
Scotland v Sweden 6-5
Scotland v Korea 7-3
Scotland v Norway 8-4
Scotland v Japan 6-8
Scotland v China 9-6
Scotland v Canada 8-6
Scotland v Germany
Scotland v Italy
Photos © WCF / Jeffrey Au & Michael Burns