SCOTS SHOW FIGHTING QUALITIES TO MAINTAIN PLAY-OFF PUSH AT WORLDS
At the end of a demanding day at the BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championships, Scotland’s Team Mouat pulled off a brilliant comeback against Germany in their second match of day four to maintain their challenge for a play-off spot.
A near perfectly executed final end secured a vital win as skip Bruce Mouat and teammates Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan recovered from a tough extra end loss to reigning world champions Sweden
The Scots had forced that extra end after having been 5-2 down after eight ends, by registering a two at the ninth, then stealing at the 10th and they piled on the pressure again once again, lying two ahead of Niklas Edin’s final stone. However the Swede demonstrated why he is a multiple world and European champion with a draw into the four foot to claim a 6-5 win, leaving Mouat frustrated with the overall performance.
“We always have to come out playing our best against the Swedes and we just didn’t do that,” he admitted.
“We were struggling a bit and while we set up some good ends, we just never finished them off really, so it was quite a frustrating game. We thought we maybe could have stolen the extra end, but they played some really good shots to finish off the game and you’d expect them to make their last shot to get the win.”
The second match of the day was consequently all the more important and the Scots were up against opponents who were packed with confidence after overturning the odds when they had registered their first win of the competition, in doing so inflicting a first defeat on table-topping Norway.
The gap remained at four at the midway break after an exchange of shots at the next two ends, but the Scots raised their game in the second half, narrowing the gap with a three at the sixth, then levelling things with a two at the eighth after forcing their opponents at the seventh end.
Sixten Totzek’s men were by no means beaten, however and the German skip looked well set again when his take-out with his penultimate stone left his opposite number facing an unpromising position with four German stones in the house against a lone and exposed Scottish one.
Having been slightly heavy-handed in attempting a freeze with his previous stone, Mouat then produced a stunning double take out and roll onto what had been the German shot stone and while Totzek still had a difficult chance to make two, he was slightly off target and was forced to take a one.
That left the Scots knowing exactly what they had to do playing the last and every shot was executed as it was called as they piled the pressure onto Totzek. He responded well with his last stone, producing a hit and roll which was just a couple of inches short of ensuring another extra end, but leaving it just visible enough to allow Mouat to make the take out which left him with the two required to move in front for the first time when it mattered most in securing a 9-8 win.
The key nature of that match was reflected in Mouat’s acknowledgement of how difficult it had been.
“I think it’s maybe the most tiring game I’ve ever played, to be honest in terms of emotionally and physically. We were so invested in trying to gain the comeback that towards the end of the game I was just totally knackered and I’m just very proud of how we went about the last five ends.”
“After five ends we were 6-2 down and we had a really good discussion in the fifth end break, thought of a new strategy to play against these boys and it really worked for us. I was really proud of how they all came out and played to set me up for some really good shots to secure that win.”
It was a result that put them into a six-way tie in second spot with a 5-2 record as they passed the halfway stage of the round-robin competition and Mouat believes they can now kick on into a run of matches that will pit them against the main contenders for the six Olympic qualifying spots that are available at this event.
“Hopefully that momentum has got us in a good place to play the really hard finish that we’ve got to this event and we’re hopefully on an upward trajectory,” he said.
“We’re still in a good spot. We’ve got a really tough finish to the event against a lot of really solid teams, but we’ve put ourselves into a position to qualify, we just need to go and execute.”
Their next opponents are Japan, who have won two of their seven matches so far, before they meet Switzerland, one of the other teams currently tied for second, later in the day.
“We’re facing two really good teams tomorrow,” said Mouat.
“We expect them to come out and play really well, so we’re going to have to bring our A game to both and two wins tomorrow would be huge for us, so that’s definitely what we’re going to be aiming for.”
Day 1 Results
Scotland v Canada 6-9
Scotland v Denmark 7-2
Day 2 Results
Scotland v Netherlands 9-4
Scotland v Korea 11-4
Day 3 Results
Scotland v China 10-1
Day 4 Results
Scotland v Sweden 5-6 (EE)
Scotland v Germany 9-8
Scotland v Japan
Scotland v Switzerland
Images: WCF/Jeffrey Au & Curling Canada Michael Burns
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