Four Nations 2018 – final results

In brief:

England 29-21 Wales (Kay)
Wales 31-29 Ireland (Meikle)
Scotland 34-22 Wales (Big Bertha)

Wales’ curlers could only manage one trophy from this season’s Four Nations weekend – but it was the one they had targeted, and it was fought hard.

Wales started day two of the 2018 Four Nations weekend knowing it was going to be tough to beat Scotland. They trailed by 14-shots against Scotland, whereas against England the margin was closer at 7 shots. Wales had a slender 3-shot lead against Ireland after their Mixed matches on Friday evening, when Adrian Meikle and James Pougher had mixed individual results against Johnjo Kenny and Corolyn Hibberd respectively – losing 4-7 and winning 11-5 respectively.

The Men’s team (under Adrian) faced Ireland’s John Wilson on Sunday morning, and it was a very close match. With scores back and forth, the match eventually ended with Ireland winning 8-6, taking Wales’ lead to just 1. A couple of sheets away at the same time, Dawn Watson’s women’s trailed Marie O’Kane by a couple of shots going into the final end. There were lots of Welsh red stones in the house, but Ireland could potentially retain the trophy with a well-executed final stone. However, the shot was a little heavy, and Dawn won the final end to take a 10-9 win, making for a 31-29 win overall.

It was the first trophy that Wales could secure, and the most sought-after, given Ireland had beaten all three of the other nations the previous 2 years. Victory for Wales also gave confirmation that Ireland could not win the Grand Slam for a third year running – as they led both England and Scotland at that stage, with both those contests still to finish.

4nations2018-stranrar-draw-7-1The late-morning session saw Wales play Mixed matches against Scotland, and while it was mathematically possible for Wales to turn the standings around, Scotland’s 23-9 lead was impressive. In the circumstances, both Andrews Robbins’ and James Pougher’s teams performed well and were the result dependent on that session alone, Wales would have won the trophy – but the 6-7 loss and 7-4 victory were not enough to catch up and Scotland therefore win Big Bertha (the Welsh Stone) for the first time in several years. This session also saw a number of players who were carrying (or the case of the author, picked up) injuries – which perhaps made the performance all the more commendable.

The final session was against England, and the Kay Trophy was more than mathematically reachable – given in Wales’ first matches with England there had been more than a little luck in the English favour. However, while both men and ladies played were both competitive matches, a 6-6 draw between Adrian Meikle and Tommy Campbell, together with a 6-5 loss by Laura Beever against Val Saville, meant the arrears marginally increased and England won the title 29-21.

 

Next year’s competition will be hosted by the English Curling Association. The ECA hope that it will be possible to hold the contests at the new ice rink at Barton Grange (near Preston), but should the rink project there be delayed, it will take place back at Stranraer. It is expected to be held 18-20 January 2019 (TBC)

Other results

Ireland 28-30 Scotland (Marshal Milennium)
England 35-32 Ireland (Turnbull)
England 40-37 Scotland (men – Tom Ballantyne)
Scotland 27-6 England (women – Connie Miller)

Four Nations – weather warning

Given a number of vehicles got stuck in the snow on the M74 between Carlisle and Glasgow last night, please bear in mind the weather conditions when travelling to Stranraer for the Four Nations this weekend.

A yellow warning for snow and ice was issued by the Met Office for Thursday and Friday, covering all of the A75 route from Carlisle to Stranraer.

It follows the more serious weather on Wednesday night – which led to an Amber warning – and left multiple lorries jackknifed across the route overnight due to the thick snow cover.

Please keep up to date with the forecast and prepare for the journey as appropriate.

Police Scotland and Traffic Scotland also issued the following on Wednesday evening (the “do not travel” warning expired on Thursday morning):

Police Scotland are advising that conditions for travel in the Dumfries and Galloway areas may be hazardous and EXTRA CAUTION should be exercised.

If you are travelling you should ensure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for the conditions making sure you have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours. Charge your mobile phone and plan your route as well as alternative routes.

Listen to media broadcasts especially local radio and Traffic Scotland Radio or visit www.trafficscotland.org . For public transport information visit www.travelinescotland.com

 

Four Nations 2018 preview

The Four Nations begins on Friday at Stranraer Ice Rink in Dumfries & Galloway.  The Four Nations meeting is a chance for Wales to compete against Scotland, England and Ireland for a series of trophies.  There is usually a mixture of men’s, ladies’ and mixed teams.

This time, it’s Ireland’s turn to host the tournament, and it will be held at the Stranraer Ice Rink (inside the North West Castle Hotel).

There are six matches across the weekend, with the first taking place on Friday evening.

We will keep you up to date with how our teams get on throughout the weekend.

Wales avoid relegation in tough 2017 European campaign

Wales’ men maintained the nation’s place in the B-Division of European Curling this week, but will clearly be disappointed with their performance in St. Gallen. The team struggled to win matches at this year’s championships.

The team had a poor start to the competition after losing their opening match to Poland 7-4 on Saturday.

Sunday was a really disheartening day for Wales supporters. Despite leading France 4-2 after 3 ends, Wales lost scores of 3 and 4 in the next 2 ends to trail 9-4 at the half-time break, and when France took 2 against the hammer in the 6th, it looked too big a mountain to climb. They were knocked back by a second 6-end loss that evening, 11-1 to the Czech Republic. The Czechs were always likely to be tough challengers, and went on to finish unbeaten at the top of the B-Division round-robin, and were only beaten in the Semi-finals.

After those first few days, results started to turn around for Wales, but with 3 losses from a maximum 7 round-robin games on the board, it was always going to be tough to qualify for the play-offs. From that point, the main target then had to be securing their place in the B-Division for another season, with the play-offs still a technical possibility.

Wales’ fourth match was against Denmark – a country which has often done well at the Europeans, but whose team has struggled this year. The match on Monday evening was the first in this year’s competition where Wales scored in the first end – and the first where Team Pougher not only took the lead but defended it in the following end. Wales were in control throughout, and the Danes only scored in 2 ends, with the final score 9-2 to Wales – another match where the handshake came after only 6 full ends.

Despite this being only the team’s first win of the competition, it certainly lifted moods.

On Tuesday’s early evening session, Wales took another victory, 7-4 over Slovenia – and at this point hopes were still alive that the team might qualify for the play-offs – but for that to happen, Wales had to beat Lithuania. That match was a low-scoring affair, with the first 3 ends blanked, but sadly it was Lithuania who not only took the lead, but kept it right to the tenth end to put all thoughts of a play-off spot beyond Wales’s reach.

The final Group game against Turkey therefore would decide if Wales were secure in the B-Division, would have to rely on results elsewhere, or play relegation play-off matches. Unfortunately, Wales did not do so well, losing their match 10-4, and had to rely on results elsewhere. However, because Denmark lost to France (by a single shot), Wales were just ranked highly enough to avoid the relegation play-off zone.

A quick look to the other Home Nations reveals England’s men – who like Wales have been close to promotion to the A-Division in some recent years – finished mid-table in the B-Division this year. England’s women also had a similar campaign, winning just under half their matches. The final B-Division women’s medal-winners were Finland who beat Latvia by 1 shot, while Estonia beat Norway for the Bronze. The Men’s Gold winners were Finland, who beat Poland 8-3 in 8 ends, while the Czech Republic took Bronze with a 4-shot win over Spain, also in 8 ends.

In the A-Division, both of Scotland’s teams guaranteed themselves a medal after winning their semi-finals – with the men beating Switzerland just a couple of hours before the women did the same. The Gold medals will be decided tomorrow (Saturday).

Wales top of World Mixed Group A after 2 wins from 2 matches

The Palladium in Champéry. Taken during the 2014 European Curling Championships

The Palladium in Champéry. Taken during the 2014 European Curling Championships

Team Wales (Adrian Meikle, Dawn Watson, Andrew Tanner & Laura Beever) are currently top of the Group A table at the World Mixed Curling Championships in Champéry, Switzerland.

The team started well at the Palladium by beating Croatia 6-4 straight after Friday’s Opening Ceremony. Having put in a good Last Stone Draw to take the hammer in the first end, Wales could only keep Croatia to a steal of 1 shot, but the second end was blanked. The main control in the game came from Wales’ score of 3 with the hammer in the third end, putting them 2 points ahead of the opposition. Despite narrowing the gap in the fourth end, Wales kept in the lead throughout the rest of the match.

Wales then won a close match against Hungary 7-5 on Saturday’s early evening session Despite winning the hammer, they could only take a single shot in the first end, and with Hungary taking 2 in the second it was clear Wales would have to come from behind if they were to deny Hungary victory. Wales responded well, taking 3 shots in the third end, then stealing 1 in the fourth to lead 5-2 at the half-time break. When play resumed, the two teams traded scores of 2, leaving Wales 7-4 ahead after the sixth end – and when Hungary could only take a single shot in the seventh it seemed unlikely they could overhaul Wales in the final end. Eventually, Wales ran the Hungarians out of stone, took victory and joined Finland and Israel as the undefeated teams in the session.

Wales play again at 7pm on Sunday 8th October (UK time) when they face Estonia. The Estonians and defending champions Russia are the only teams in Group A who have yet to play a second match.

Wales Skip Adrian Meikle told the WCF’s reporter after their win over Hungary that “the first half was a bit shaky at times” but that they were “very happy” to see Wales at the top of the table.

Four Nations 2017 – final results

In brief:

Wales 30-29 England (Kay)
Ireland 40-21 Wales (Meikle)
Wales 36-15 Scotland (Big Bertha)

Wales’ curlers once again took two trophies from a successful – if occasionally very tense – weekend at the Four Nations.

Wales started day two of the 2017 Four Nations weekend knowing they were already favourites to win two out of their three possible trophies. A healthy overnight lead against both Scotland and England meant the Kay Trophy and the Welsh Stone were within their sights, but a 12-shot deficit to Ireland implied a spectacular effort would be needed for Wales to win the Meikle Trophy.

wales-englandThe day started with matches against England, with Andrew Tanner’s men on Sheet A against Tommy Campbell, while Laura Beever’s ladies faced Lesley Gregory on Sheet B. Initially it looked as though they might both be quite tight matches, but in the second half they started to tell different stories. Andrew Tanner’s team opened up a 5-point lead in the sixth end, having scored 2 shots with the hammer and then stealing two against it, but just after that the ladies conceded a score of 4 to put England’s team 11-5 ahead. In the end, it was a pressured final stone draw for Andrew Tanner, and the crowd thought it might have come up just short, but in the end had the final scores (a 9-4 win for the men and a 12-5 loss for the ladies) meant Wales had a single shot advantage and so retain the Kay Trophy.

In the middle session, Wales knew they had a bit of a mountain to climb. Ireland led by 12 shots overnight, although their men’s skip JohnJo Kenny had (just as Wales’ Adrian Meikle did) sustained injury and therefore did not play today. Chris Wells led the Wales men to a 11-5 win by playing consistently and shutting down most of the opportunites Ireland had to score. However, the ladies struggled and lost 16-3 and so Ireland won overall, by 40 shots to 21, and retain the Meikle Trophy.

wales-final-end2The battle for the Big Bertha (Welsh) Stone was already set well in Wales’ favour, as they led Scotland 18-6 overnight. Despite Scotland winning quite a few ends, it was Wales who in both the ladies’ and the men’s matches who took the large scores. A pressured draw into a very congested Sheet A house meant Andrew Tanner’s team took 3 to lead 7-4 after 6 ends, while on Sheet B Wales took a score of 4 to lead by the same score. The ladies built on that to steal two in the seventh, while the men contained Scotland to a single shot, meaning by the time the eighth end started the trophy’s fate was almost mathematically certain, as Wales led by 7 shots in the two matches and 15 shots overall. The men finished their match with a fairly simple takeout for one, which gave them an 8-5 victory, while the women had to wait for Scottish skip Jan Howard to play her last stone into the house where Wales lay shot. The takeout overcurled and hit the guard, giving the Wales ladies a 10-4 win and confirming overall victory for Wales 36-15.

ladies-hi5There was one other trophy be decided on the final session, in the contest between England and Ireland. This one had seen the advantage swing both ways and as the two matches went into their final ends there was barely a shot between the nations overall. In the end, it came down to a measure on Sheet C, but it was finally confirmed that Ireland had taken a single shot in both match and won the trophy by one shot overall.

Next year’s competition is expected to be held 19-21 January 2018 at the ice rink in Stranraer, organised by the Irish Curling Association.

Other results

Ireland 31 – 21 Scotland (Marshal Milennium)
Ireland 27 – 26 England (Turnbull)
England 77-39 Scotland (men – Tom Ballantyne)
England 12-15 Scotland (women – Connie Miller)

Four Nations 2017 Day One

sat-1200-2In brief:

Wales 16-13 England,

Wales 7-19 Ireland,

Wales 18-6 Scotland,

The first day of this year’s Four Nations saw Wales take a small lead in their contest against England for the Kay Trophy, and build a significant lead in the battle for the Big Bertha stone against Scotland. However, there will be a significant challenge ahead for Wales if they want to regain the Hugh Meikle Trophy from Ireland, as they trail by 12 shots. Once again, it was the only day of the weekend where all Wales’ matches were of Mixed teams, although this was not true for the other nations at Greenacres. Continue reading

Four Nations 2017 preview

The Four Nations begins on Saturday at Greenacres curling club in Renfrewshire.  The Four Nations meeting is a chance for Wales to compete against Scotland, England and Ireland for a series of trophies.  There is usually a mixture of men’s, ladies’ and mixed teams.

This time, it’s Scotland’s turn to host the tournament, and in a change of venue, we will once again return to Greenacres (which as well as hosting the Four Nations in 2016, also hosts the annual Welsh Bonspiel).

There are three matches on each day, with the first taking place at 9am. For Wales, the days are split neatly, with Saturday being a day for Mixed matches, while Sunday sees matches between men’s teams and women’s teams.

Saturday 28th Sunday 29th
0900 1200 1500 0900 1130 1400
4th Adrian Meikle Andrew Tanner Chris Wells Andrew Tanner  Adrian Meikle Adrian Meikle
3rd Dawn Watson Emily Sandwith Laura Beever Richard Pougher  Rhys Phillips Richard Pougher
2nd David Peek Garry Coombs Rhys Phillips Garry Coombs  David Peek Garry Coombs
1st Rachel McCann Delyth Glyn Jones Mike Thackray Alistair Reid  Chris Wells Mike Thackray
England Ireland Scotland England Ireland Scotland
4th Chris Wells Richard Pougher Adrian Meikle Laura Beever Dawn Watson Dawn Watson
3rd Laura Beever Heather Russell Dawn Watson Heather Russell Heather Russell Laura Beever
2nd Rhys Phillips Alistair Reid David Peek Rachel McCann Emily Sandwith Emilty Sandwith 
1st Alistair Reid Mike Thackray Blair Hughes Delyth Glyn Jones Rachel McCann Delyth Glyn Jones

We will keep you up to date with how our teams get on throughout the weekend.

Wales face France in Europeans Opener

Adrian Meikle

Adrian Meikle (Skip)

The European Curling Championships are about to begin at Braehead, Scotland, and Wales are already there. The team, now an established setup, are looking to build on their result at the 2015 championships in Denmark, where they secured their place in the B-Division through a 7th-place group play-off.

For the 2016 competition, the team is largely the same as for the 2015 championships. Adrian Meikle returns to the line-up as Skip, as Jamie Fletcher takes the Coach’s position.

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (Coach), James Pougher (Third/vice-skip)

Jamie, who is currently unable to compete at international level due to injury, will also be providing some of the match reports for this website.

Alongside Jamie on our web team this year will be Laura Beever, who recently returned from representing Wales at the World Mixed Championships in Russia, and Martin Lloyd, who is a writer and has represented Wales at the annual Four Nations event.

 

Wales’ first match is against France, at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon. Live scores can be found on the 2016 European Curling Championships website. Sadly, while you can watch matches from the A-Division live on YouTube, none of the B-Division matches are due to be webcast.

However, with Braehead curling rink less than 200 miles away from Wales, it is expected that a large number of fans from Welsh curling will make the trip North at some stage of the next week. On behalf of all of them, and those who cannot make the journey for whatever reason, Good Luck, and Good Curling!

Wales finish 18th at World Mixed after beating Estonia

#teamWales by the scoreboard from their last #wmxcc2016 match. L-R: Andrew Tanner (skip), Laura Beever (Third), Emily Sandwith (Lead), David Peek (Second)

#teamWales by the scoreboard from their last #wmxcc2016 match. L-R: Andrew Tanner (skip), Laura Beever (Third), Emily Sandwith (Lead), David Peek (Second)

The Wales Mixed Curling team have significantly improved their ranking at Mixed curling as the 2016 World Mixed Championships draw to a close.

Their final group stage game against Estonia led to a 6-3 victory, which was enough to secure fourth place in Group E with a record of seven matches played, four wins and three losses. Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite enough to qualify for the first knock-out stage, the last 16.

While the overall winners of the competition are still to be decided, the official standings now place Wales at 18th, just two positions short of making the knock-out stage.

The match against Estonia did not all go Wales’ way, and they had to work hard at several ends. However, it got off to a good start when Wales managed to pull off a steal in the first end, despite the end not having gone entirely to plan.

Estonia then responded in the second end by taking a score of two, despite Wales being well set up at one stage. This gave Wales the last stone advantage for the third end.

Estonia's skip holds a broom by a single yellow guard stone

Wales and Estonia trade hits in the fourth end. Photo © 2016 Alina Androsova/WCF. Used with permission.

Wales struggled to play consistently enough to make good use of the hammer advantage, and ends three and four were blanked as the back-and-forth of takeout shots between the teams meant Wales were unable to score more than one. At the half-time break, Wales therefore trailed by 1 shot.

End five was a significant turning point in the match. Wales were deliberately playing a somewhat aggressive strategy with lots of stones heading into the house, and on this occasion it worked out well. Estonia’s centre line guards proved ineffective and Wales sat two when the Estonian skip came to throw his final stone. An attempted freeze onto the shot stone was slightly too heavy and possibly thrown slightly too wide, which left Wales’ Andrew Tanner a shot for three.

The Estonia team clustered around the house which has one red stone and several yellow stones near the button

Team Estonia use their time-out. Photo © 2016 Alina Androsova/WCF. Used with permission.

The sixth end could have turned the tide back again, and at one stage Estonia, who had been running their thinking time clock down a little during the match so far, elected to use their one and only time-out to discuss what to do. With several stones clustered around the button, there was a risk that Estonia could take a score of at least two shots back again; However, good clearing shots from Laura Beever (Third) and Andrew Tanner (skip) meant Estonia were eventually restricted to just a single shot, giving Wales a lead of one shot going into the seventh end.

End seven was a fairly typical end of curling for Wales, who made use of corner guards, draws and hits to take the expected score of two shots with their last stone advantage, putting them three ahead with one end to play.

The eighth end was not completed, as Wales consistently removed the Estonians’ shots from play until it was mathematically impossible for Estonia to even level the match.

The result places Wales fourth in Group E, with a record of four wins and three losses – the first time Wales have had a positive win-loss ratio in several years at this competition and its forerunner, the European Mixed Championships. Unfortunately, there is only space for one of the five fourth-ranked teams to qualify for the last 16, and Wales’ Draw Shot Challenge score was not good enough to put them in contention.

However, the final ranking for the tournament places Wales 18th out of 37 teams, an rise of 8 places from last year (when Wales were 26th of 36 teams). It means Wales are the second-highest-ranked team from Great Britain after Scotland, who beat Canada in their quarter-final last night and this morning play Sweden for a place in the grand final. The second semi-final is between Korea and the hosts, Russia. England also did well, to rise 11 places.

While there is a little disappointment that such a good record did not lead to a place in the knock-out stages, the Wales team will return home on Sunday knowing that they have done a good job and can be proud of their record in Kazan.