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.

First win of 2016 World Mixed for Wales

Emily, David, Laura and Andrew with the score from their first win at the 2016 World Mixed Championships

Emily, David, Laura and Andrew with the score from their first win at the 2016 World Mixed Championships

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.

Wales in battle to avoid relegation

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

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

Wales’ men are now in the relegation play-offs at the European Curling Championships 2015, after failing to secure their B-Division spot in the Round Robin. The team could have secured their place on Wednesday afternoon with a win over Lithuania, but lost that match to end up 7th (out of 8) in the table.

James Pougher and his team are up against Croatia this morning, and a win here would be enough to keep Wales in the B-Division and secure a spot at the 2016 Championships in Braehead.

If Wales lose, they will still have one last chance to stay up – they would face either Belgium or Estonia at the same time tomorrow.

Should Wales retain their B-Division place, they now know which of this year’s A-Division teams will be joining them – the men from the Netherlands and Czech Republic have only 5 Round Robin wins between them.