First steps towards South Wales curling

At the moment, curling is only available at one location in Wales – Deeside Ice Rink, in Flintshire (North Wales). However, with recent interest in the sport from the South and the new facility in Cardiff, the Welsh Curling Association is interested to see if it is possible to develop the sport at a second location.

The WCA is therefore inviting anyone in South Wales who would like to be involved in curling in South Wales to come to an open meeting on Tuesday 6th March at the Ice Arena Wales.

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 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 exit Europeans on a high

The sight of sunshine over Glasgow at noon on Wednesday is a welcome change for a Wales side becoming accustomed to the 8 a.m. draw; arriving at Braehead for the first of a double header in high spirits with plenty already to be proud of at these European Championships. Going into the first of those two games against a Slovakian side with their own designs on the Play Offs, the Welsh line up is altered once more with Simon Pougher replacing Garry Coombs at Lead, ahead of the orthodox order of Rhys Phillips at Second, James Pougher at Third and Adrian Meikle Skip.

A solid effort with the draw shots gave Wales the hammer to start with and Slovakia responded by putting shots into the house early. A Welsh miss allowed the Slovakians to guard their own stones and ultimately Wales were forced to surrender the hammer and draw for one. The opening stones of the second end were sent behind the tee-line but Slovakia were able to split the house before squeezing a tight shot inside to roll over. This presented Adrian the opportunity to play the double take out however the roll was not quite right and only one of the Slovakian stones could be removed, resulting in a gain of two for the Eastern Europeans.

Drawing around Slovakia’s first stone at the beginning of the third, Wales looked well set to profit from the return of the last stone advantage, but the situation developed dangerously with a succession of good Slovakian stones drawing into the house. Some control was restored with a good Welsh hit to remove two stones before Adrian was able to draw in – ably assisted by some delicious sweeping by Rhys – to take two from the end and restore Wales’s lead. The fourth end started much better than the previous one, with Wales burying one early and largely staying in control of the shot making. Slovakia were forced to take just the one from the end after needing to make a draw, and the scores were evened up once more.

The fifth end, just prior to the interval, was an ideal opportunity for Wales to open up a gap between themselves and their opponents, although a Slovakian stone lingering at the back of the house proved difficult to dislodge and would ultimately be crucial in spoiling the end. Wales froze up to it on several occasions and the chance to draw for two was open but the final stone pulled up short of its intended target and the Welsh had to settle for just the one point from the end.

The sixth was an even and open end including multiple good hits from both sides, with the house staying largely clear until the very last plays were made. Slovakia hit the last Welsh stone away but fail to roll out, taking the one and evening up the scores once again. The poor luck of the Slovakians was carried over into the next end were a crucial early miss put the advantage firmly in Wales’s favour, but their opponents fought back well to keep the end moving and Wales were ultimately happy to blank the end and keep the hammer in their favour.

The match turned in the eighth where Slovakia were able to engineer a steal against the hammer and lead for the first time since the second end. Two stones went deep early and whilst the Welsh were able to hit the majority of them away – including a good take out from James – there were just too many to cope with and the steal was achieved. A similar pattern developed in the ninth with Slovakia challenging Wales to hit out whatever they put in and the weight of numbers simply being too great. The final draw had to be made by the Welsh to prevent a steal of three and was, but it couldn’t prevent two stones being lost and the outcome of the match swinging further into the favour of the Slovakians. A defensive effort early in the tenth cemented this advantage and Wales were soon left without enough stones to make up the difference, bringing to an end a frustrating but tightly contested encounter with the score Wales 4, Slovakia 7. Meanwhile, on the adjoining sheet, a last stone win for Israel against group leaders Turkey brought an end to Wales’s chance of making the play offs.

– – –

 

Picking themselves up and dusting themselves down, Wales returned in the evening for their final game of the European championships against an Israeli team that had looked solid throughout and had his their best form to dislodge previously unbeaten Turkey earlier in the day. More dramatic changes were made to the Welsh line up with Adrian Meikle dropping down the order to play First stones whilst still calling the shots from the Head, Garry Coombs returning but moving up to Second, followed by Rhys Phillips at Third and James Pougher entrusted with the responsibility of playing the Last Stones of each end.

Israel opened up with the hammer and remained in control of the first end until its conclusion, taking the blank to maintain their last stone advantage. They then attacked Wales in the second, putting shots in and rolling behind them. A good shot from James cut this down but it wouldn’t roll over enough and the final Israeli stone was just able to pick it out and stay for a take of two. The Welsh then set up the third end well, with three stones in the house from an early point, and didn’t really look back – with an Israeli miss partway through aiding Wales’s cause. Good shots later on doubled away two Welsh stones but James was left with a draw to make – and did – resulting in a take of two and a levelling of the scores once again.

Stealing a one in the fourth was a good result for the end, with a fortunate roll behind a crowded front-of-house bettering any effort by Israel to remove it and giving the lead to Wales for the first time in the encounter. The fifth end was then blanked, as Israel looked to hold onto the hammer going into the break and Wales happy to be performing above the level of their opponents. They were even happier once the sixth end opened the second half, with a steal of one extending their advantage and for the first time in the day they began to look comfortably in control of the game.

Excellent shots at the beginning of the seventh end were a sign of the Welsh dominance that developed as the game progressed. There was no surer sign of this than the powerful, driven double take out sent down the ice by Rhys – the sight of Garry running in order to sweep after taking a brief break from the ice was some measure of the quality and power of the shot! A magnificent steal of two widened the gap and Wales will have been happy that the scoreboard was reflecting the quality of their play.

The eighth end was marked by good early weights which created a promising situation. A split house behind a mounting number of guards shut down all avenues for Israeli gain and, although they made a good shot to remove one of the Welsh stones, they couldn’t prevent another steal by the Wales team to move the score into irrecoverable territory. Both teams shook hands at the end of the eighth with the final score standing at Wales 7, Israel 2. Although Israel would progress into the play offs at the expense of Wales, the boys were satisfied with the quality and control of their display and the final tournament record of four wins and three defeats represents a good return against a competitive and ever improving B Division lineup.

Wales lose to unbeaten Turkey

A frustrating early morning encounter with Turkey ended in defeat for Wales – although the match was closer than the 6-3 score line suggests.

A good pair of draw shots from Wales gave them the hammer at the beginning of the match. All three opening ends were blanked, however, after good defensive work by Turkey left Wales with no opportunity to score more than one – and no desire to surrender the hammer.

In the fourth end the game changed. Turkey set up the end well, putting their stones in and leaving Wales with little choice but to take one and surrender the last stone advantage for the following end. With the hammer secured, the Turks pressed on and took a score of three in the fifth and led 3-1 going into the interval.

When play resumed, it was the Turkish who remained in the ascendancy; a series of good shots setting the play up until they were able to steal one in the sixth end and another two against the hammer in the eighth, either side of a blank end.

Wales did well to cut the deficit down by scoring two in the ninth but faced a tall order to try and steal at least three in the tenth end. Turkey did a good job of closing out the avenues for Wales when they presented themselves and, with insufficient stones left to draw level, hands were shaken before the conclusion of the tenth end.

 

Up next: Wales play Slovakia and Israel tomorrow in the final round robin games.

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