Wales lose to group favourites

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

 

Big day for Wales in Mixed Doubles

Adrian Meikle (l) and Dawn Watson (r).

Adrian Meikle (l) and Dawn Watson (r).

Today is a day that could well decide Wales’ fate at this year’s World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships. After a great start to the event, marred only by losing their first match by 1 shot, Wales sit joint third in their Group table, and play two matches today against teams that have a good pedigree in this format of the game.

Wales have been agonisingly close to the perfect record so far at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships. The pairing of Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle faced a first match against Brazil, who have competed at the World Mixed Doubles since 2014. It was a very close match, and after eight ends of engaging play the scores were level at seven shots all. Unfortunately, the way the match had gone meant it was Brazil who had the hammer advantage in the Extra End, and they took a single shot to beat Wales 8-7.

Dawn and Adrian were up against curling débutantes Qatar in their second match, and it seems the newcomers still have a lot to learn about this discipline. Wales completely overpowered Qatar, as their only real mistake was allowing Qatar to steal 1 in the very first end. After that, Wales were totally dominant, and took victory by a 13-2 scoreline.

That leaves Wales joint third (with Scotland) in the Group F table. They next face the Czech Republic, at 13:30 BST (14:30 local time), and then take on Scotland this evening (20:00 BST, 21:00 local time). With Adrian’s aim being to reach the play-off stages, meaning a final table position of 1 or 2 is required, they could certainly use at least one victory today.

TV Coverage of the World Mixed Doubles Curling championships is available on the World Curling Federation’s YouTube channel. More information is available on the World Mixed Doubles championship website.

Wales Seniors’ 50% record from 4 games

Five men in mainly-white Wales curling uniforms

Wales’ Senior men’s team. (l-r): Alistair Reid (Alternate), Gary Waddell (Lead), Chris Wells (Second/Vice-skip), Richard Pougher (Third), Adrian Meikle (Skip).

Wales’ Senior Men are keeping an even keel when it comes to results at the World Senior Curling Championships this week. Adrian Meikle, who is also playing in the World Mixed Doubles competition at the same time, has steered his team to victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday and Belgium yesterday.

The team didn’t have the best start to the competition, as they came up against Switzerland on Friday afternoon. Switzerland were Quarter-Finalists in 2015, and despite putting up a good fight Wales were defeated in a very close match. Wales started well, scoring 2 with the hammer in the first end, and leading 4-2 after four ends, but allowing Switzerland to take a 3 in the sixth end proved fatal, and the match was decided at 6-4 to Switzerland without the eighth end being completed. The win over the Czech Republic was a rather different affair, as Wales consistently scored against the hammer and took full advantage of last stone after the two ends the Czechs did score in, with the final score 7-3 to Wales.

Against the Belgians on Sunday, Wales were fully in control of the match, despite having the last stone for just a single end. Taking two against the hammer in the first end was a great start, and at the half-way stage Wales were 5-1 up from four ends, but the real decider was the sixth end. Everything seemed to go well for Wales, and they took a score of 6 to put the match almost beyond Belgium’s reach. Theoretically, Belgium could still have levelled the scores in the remaining two ends, but Wales took one shot in the seventh and so the teams shook hands with Wales 14-1 ahead.

There was a quick turnaround for Wales on Sunday, as after just a few hours’ rest they were up against Germany. Whether the back-to-back matches had any significant effect is difficult to tell, but Wales certainly had to battle in this game. The Germans had the last stone as the game began, but the first half of the match was all very tight, with both teams forced to take just a single shot with the hammer in the first three ends. Germany managed to apply some leverage in the fifth end though, taking a shot against the hammer to lead 3-1 after four ends. Wales had a good response, taking 2 shots in the fifth end, but that proved to be their final score of the match. Despite Germany being forced to blank the sixth end, and a very close finish as Wales took last-stone-advantage against a 1-shot deficit into the final end, it was Germany who emerged victorious 5-3.

They are currently in play against Russia, and after two ends it is still anyone’s game, as Russia lead by three shots to two.