ITALY WIN PUTS SCOTS ON BRINK OF PLAY-OFFS
Team Mouat had yet another bounce back day at the BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship when they recovered from an agonising loss to the reigning Olympic champions to move to the brink of qualification for next year’s event in Beijing.
The Scots had begun that match with the USA impressively, earning the hammer, then putting it to advantage by claiming a two at the opening end, before stealing at the next to claim an early 3-0 lead.
With only six places at the 2022 Winter Olympics to be secured, a defeat would have put the 2018 champions’ chances of securing one of them at grave risk and, while they were being outplayed in terms of shot execution, John Schuster rallied his men over the next seven ends to stay in the game before they claimed a match changing three at the ninth to move in front for the first time.
Bruce Mouat and teammates Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan then showed their steel to generate the two required to take the match to an extra end and while they applied pressure there, too, Schuster managed to produce the draw he required with his final stone to edge it 10-9.
“It was quite annoying and frustrating that we lost that game,” Mouat admitted.
“I thought we had played really well at the first few ends to set ourselves up into a good position and we just let it slip away. We never really managed to force them, which is quite key when you have an early lead like we had, so it really is frustrating that we didn’t come away with the win there, but we bounced back really well.”
That second match of the day had become all the more vital against an Italian team that had just knocked Norway off the top of the standings with a dominant 10-3 win and the Scots rose to the challenge, just as they had after losing to hosts Canada and defending world champions Sweden earlier in the week.
They also had minimal time to prepare because of that extra end, yet it was a match they dominated, securing the hammer with the draw shot challenge, then controlling proceedings by blanking the opening end, registering a two at the second, then stealing at the next two to set up a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Italians finally got on the scoreboard when they took a single just before the midway break, but after the Scots were also forced on the resumption, they then stole once again at the seventh end and after further shots were exchanged at the next two, their opponents decided there was no need to play a final end when 7-2 behind.
“The quick turn-around was pretty tough,” said Mouat, noting that the addition of an extra team, with 14 involved this year rather than the usual 13, was also adding to the challenge.
“We had to race back, get some food in us, then head back to the arena. World Championships are always a bit like that, but now we’ve got this extra game thrown in as well, so we’re just trying to make sure we’ve got everything planned out really well just in case we do go to the extra ends like that match against the USA.”
With the curling stones having been ‘rubbed’ overnight, as is traditional midway through the event, it affected the way they played as they inevitably curled more, but Mouat refused to make any excuse of that.
“Conditions were a bit different this morning, but we still got the hammer and in practise it showed up that the stones were going to curl more and we tried to get on top of it, but we maybe didn’t have it down to what we had yesterday when we were playing really well,” he observed.
“So, it was a different challenge, but we expect to play just as well when the rocks have been rubbed and we just needed to sharpen up for the second game which is exactly what we did.”
With two days of round robin play to come they now sit in outright third spot, behind champions Sweden, the only team to have qualified for the play-offs and Mouat’s next opponents, the RCF.
“We’ve played them quite a few times actually, but it looks like they’re playing really well, so we’ll have to be at our best to beat them,” he said.
Victory in either that match or in their final game on Friday against Norway will ensure their place in the play-offs and, by extension, Team GB’s spot at next year’s Winter Olympics which remains the priority. However, Mouat also has his sights on the finish in the top two in the standings that would secure a place directly into the semi-finals, rather than having to come through the first round of the play-offs.
“The game against Italy was a key match for us to make sure we’re in a good spot and I think if we win the next two games we’ve obviously qualified, but we’re hoping to get into that one-two position at the top of the standings which is still open for us. If we come out firing like we did tonight then we’ll have a chance,” he said.
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
Day 5 Results
Scotland v Japan 6-3
Scotland v Switzerland 7-4
Day 6 Results
Scotland v USA 9-10 (EE)
Scotland v Italy 7-2
Scotland v RCF
Scotland v Norway
Images: WCF/Jeffrey Au
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