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.

Wales fourth after defeating Netherlands

Wales now sit fourth in the Group E table at the World Mixed Curling Championships, after playing another consistent match against the Netherlands. For the second match of the day, it was another brilliant Last Stone Draw which gave Wales the hammer, something which could prove crucial later on.

The first end didn’t go entirely to plan, and at one stage Wales were concerned they might be giving away a steal, but the team played very well for the last few stones to remove the Dutch granite from the house and lie two.

End two again had its difficulties, but the Netherlands were left with nothing but a draw to take a single shot with their last stone.

In the third end, Wales started a period of very consistent play, and the good shot-making led to a score of three.

End four took an interesting turn, as the Netherlands tried to play an aggressive end by placing lots of stones in the house. However, Wales’ hitting game was by this point well-honed and they not only hit the Dutch shot stones but hung around too, meaning when Danny van den Berg came to play his final stone of the end it was a draw against five. While the Netherlands kept themselves in contention with the score of 1, there was no doubt which team was in control at the half-time break.

The fifth and sixth ends continued in a similar vein, Wales taking a score of two in the fifth and forcing a one in the sixth. By this stage, Wales were starting to throw through with their Lead stones, in an attempt to not leave the Netherlands anything to draw behind or freeze up to.

End seven started with Wales once again throwing through and the Dutch placing guards. The Seconds again began a battle of clearance and replacement, and this continued initially with guards and then with shot stones right up until the Skips came to play their shots. Despite Wales’ stones not always running out of play or into the house, come the last stones of the end there was no doubt that Wales were in control. With a single Netherlands stone lying in the back of the house, the plan was to hit and roll out to blank the end and have hammer in the eighth end, but the stone over-curled and Wales ended up taking one. Despite this minor mistake, as Wales now led 8-3 the Dutch did not want to continue and they shook hands.

Wales now have one more match in the Group E, against Estonia on Thursday (10:00 BST, 12:00 local). If they win, they keep themselves in contention for a place in the knock-out stages, dependent on the overall Draw Shot Challenge figures.

Wales team ready for World Mixed

#TeamWales at #wmxcc2016: Emily Sandwith, David Peek, Laura Beever & Andrew Tanner

#TeamWales at #wmxcc2016: Emily Sandwith, David Peek, Laura Beever & Andrew Tanner

The second World Mixed Curling Championships are about to begin in Kazan, Russia, and Wales are once again represented.

There is a mix of experience in the team, with Andrew Tanner stepping up to play as Skip and Laura Beever playing Third. New to the international curling stage are Second David Peek and Lead Emily Sandwith, although both have represented Wales at the annual Four Nations event.

The team landed in Kazan after a long journey yesterday (Thursday) and have today had a chance to try out the ice, which has been specially prepared for this competition. They have also taken to opportunity to explore the host city a little ahead of the Opening Ceremony this evening.

It is still unclear how many matches Wales will play at these championships. If Wales finish high enough in their group table, they will play in the knock-out stage, meaning more matches than the initial seven. However, one of the teams in Wales’ group have been delayed reaching the venue and it is possible that they may not make it in time for their first match of the tournament.

Wales’ first match is against Germany, at 08:00 (06:00 BST) on Saturday morning. Live scores can be found on the 2016 World Mixed Curling Championships website. There is also English-language live video coverage of the competition, although none of Wales’ group-stage matches are due to be featured.

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.

Wales at World Mixed Championships

Laura Beever (Lead), Andrew Tanner (Second), Dawn Watson (Third) & Adrian Meikle (Skip)

Laura Beever (Lead), Andrew Tanner (Second), Dawn Watson (Third) & Adrian Meikle (Skip)

Wales have been placed in Group B for the first ever World Mixed Curling Championships, which begin in 3 weeks in Bern, Switzerland.

Between 12 September and 17 September, Wales are due to face Germany, Australia, Norway, Israel, Finland, Canada, Spain and Latvia. If they do well enough to make it beyond the group stages, there will be extra matches to play on 18 and 19 September.

Wales previously competed at the European Mixed Curling Championships, which were held for the last time in September 2014, and won the title back in 2007.

You can follow the team’s progress on the tournament’s Live Scores page, and we will post updates on their progress online and on the Welsh Curling Facebook page.