Wales are now mid-table after their first victory at the 2016 World Mixed Curling Championships. It marks not only the first victory for Wales at this venue in Kazan, but also three personal firsts.
The win over Croatia, which came after the full eight ends led to tied scores and an Extra End, was the first win at a WCF International event for Andrew Tanner in his new capacity as skip. It also marked the first victory at this level for Emily Sandwith (Lead) and David Peek (Second).
Wales had a better chance at the Last Stone Draw in this match, as while Croatia covered the centre circle of the house with one stone, their second draw shot was far too heavy. Unfortunately, Wales were unable to better Croatia’s combined score from the Draw Shot and so started first again.
Wales were somewhat unlucky in the first end, as Croatia managed to make a double-takeout shot completely by accident, leaving the way open for their score of 2. From then on, Wales generally had the upper hand in the match but failed to inflict a killer blow. There were some good shots but it was a struggle to string enough together to build pressure, meaning by the close of the seventh end Wales still only led 6-4.
End eight started fairly well for Wales, with a shot stone and a guard in place, but some imperfect shots from Wales and decent play by Croatia meant Wales were at risk of giving up a score of three and losing the match when Andrew Tanner came to play his last stone. The shot called was to come around the Croatian guard and remove the shot stone from play – but the stone drew too much and caught the edge of the guard, and if it had swung any further there was a risk the guard could have been promoted into the house. Croatia played a good draw and took two shots to level the match.
The Extra End started well for Wales. They kept the end as clean as possible, removing any stone in the house and clearing guards once the fifth stone was in play.
There was one moment when Wales got a bit of good fortune, when a clearance shot hung wide and somehow caught enough of the Croatian shot stone to remove it from play. Although it was behind the tee-line and so would have been useful to draw up to, removing that stone meant that when Andrew Tanner came to play his final stone all it needed to do was to bite the 8-foot circle. With a little help from the sweepers, the stone made it to the right spot and Wales took a win by 1 shot.
Speaking after the win, skip Andrew Tanner said “The opposition played really well. It was a very close game, it went back and forth between the two teams and in the end went to an Extra End. I think we just managed to build that last end up and keep it open so that I could draw the winning shot in, but it was a very close game. It could have gone either way.
“We would love to get through to the quarter-finals, and at that point it is anybody’s game. We have lost to Germany already, who are a very tough team. We have the Swiss tomorrow who we know will be another tough game, and I think if we can get a few more wins then who knows – we might be there for the quarterfinals. I think that would be our aim, we will see how far we get in the competition.”
The result puts Wales in a mid-table position in Group E, level with Switzerland who lost against Germany on the same session.
Wales’ next match is on Monday morning (10:00 BST, 12:00 local time) against Switzerland. The team hope that they can raise their game to have a competitive match.