Wales lose to group favourites

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ECC2016MenAnother great group of Welsh supporters braved early morning alarms and the frigid Glasgow air to cheer on their team as they took on the Czech Republic in both teams’ second matches at these European Championships.

The Czech team, fancied by many to bounce back to the “A” group this year, took control early and managed a blank and a steal of one in the first two ends.

The third end saw a very aggressive strategy adopted by Welsh skip, Adrian Meikle. A great come around from second, Rhys Phillips, and a pivotal double by third, James Pougher, set up an open hit for two. Unfortunately, Meikle’s shot was slightly wide and the Czechs breathed a sigh of relief as they put another one on the board.

Wales responded with a single in the fourth but too many half shots led to a deuce for the Czech Republic in the 5th, leaving them up 4-1 at the break.

The sixth end saw Wales take a single with the hammer, leading to a very exciting seventh.

As the end unfolded, the Czechs piled on the pressure with several very good draws. Meikle, facing two with his final shot, played an incredible angle raise hit to sit one, completely buried. The Czech fourth couldn’t quite find the right line and Wales stole one to make the score 4-3.

Wales, again were in some trouble in the eighth, but a James Pougher triple takeout opened up a draw through a tight port for Meikle and another steal looked likely. Unfortunately for Wales, the Czechs made an even better shot to take one and lead 5-3 after eight ends.

A couple of missed opportunities left Wales with nothing but a wide draw against two in the ninth but it came up short, giving the consistent Czech team a 7-3 lead. The tenth end was a formality as Wales were promptly run out of stones.

Although disappointed to lose the game, a lot of positives can be taken from the performance today. As the tournament progresses, if the team is able to better capitalise on their opponents’ mistakes, Wales’ first B division playoff appearance in over a decade is certainly within their reach.

Up next: Wales play Spain and Lithuania tomorrow, both of whom have yet to taste victory at these championships. Two wins tomorrow would give Wales a 3-1 record heading into what could be a pivotal clash with Turkey Tuesday morning.

For game updates and even more curling coverage, please follow @fpowcurling and @teampougher