It was a successful weekend for Wales at Ayr Ice Rink, with the squad coming home with a total of three trophies, the most they could achieve. The triple crown title is unusual but not unprecedented, with at least one other time in Four Nations history when Wales is known to have held that honour.
After day one, the sides were ahead against both Scotland and England – in the case of Scotland by a considerable amount. Even against Ireland it was very close, with Wales just a single point behind as they started day two.
The morning session began the day well as Wales took victories over England in both men’s and ladies’ matches. Both were building on the 12-7 lead made by Andrew Tanner’s team in the mixed match the previous day, putting Wales ahead by 5 after a 6-6 peel by Hugh Meikle’s mixed team. Both men and ladies added to the lead today, with an 8-3 win for the men, and a 7-3 for the ladies. The final results when added together mean Wales took the Kay Trophy by a 14-shot margin.
The mid-day session was, for Wales’ purposes, all about Ireland. The men didn’t have a fantastic game, but despite getting into a few tricky situations they did manage to clock up a 7-6 win, which wiped out Ireland’s one-shot lead. The ladies knew that with the scores level, Ireland would retain the Meikle Trophy, and Lesley Gregory’s team came through, taking their match 7-4 to give a total score of 27 to Ireland’s 24.
The overall result following the afternoon session was at first glance a foregone conclusion, as Wales already held a 13-shot advantage over Scotland. However, a tightly-fought ladies’ match meant Scotland could have been in with a chance – but it quickly emerged that the men’s game was only going one way… and that was in favour of Wales. The Scottish men were 8-0 down by the time they started the third end, while the ladies traded the lead back and forth. The Scottish ladies took a bit of a run in the middle of the match, going 6-2 ahead, but it wasn’t enough to undo the damage done by the men, where James Pougher’s team forced the Scots to take a 1 at 10-1. A few more well-played ends from the men, and some cracking play by Laura Beever’s team, meant Wales were rewarded with an 18-3 win and a 7-7 peel, and a 28-shot aggregate win over Scotland to take Big Bertha (the Welsh Stone).
Welsh Curling Association President Adrian Meikle said: “I feels fabulous. I enjoyed all of the matches, there were some really close matches and I’m very proud of the players’ performance on the ice.
“I like the Four Nations, it’s the only time of the year that the four nations compete against each other without other nations, and it’s great for all the home nations to get together, curl and socialise.
“Obviously I like winning any game on the ice – I think it was very pleasurable to finally win against Ireland, having been one behind yesterday and with such close matches today”.
Scotland also gave up the Marshall Millennium Trophy to Ireland. They did win the (absent) Connie Miller Trophy for competition between their women and England’s, but the massive Tom Ballatyne Trophy for the same rivalry with the men went south of the border*.
There was some confusion when it came to awarding the Turnbull Trophy for England v. Ireland, but we believe it was eventually given to England by 1 shot.
The next Four Nations meeting, to be hosted by Ireland, will take place in January 2014 – probably back in Scotland, as Ireland itself has no curling rink.
* – Updated: an editing oversight meant this originally implied (incorrectly) that Scotland won the Tom Ballatyne Trophy. Apologies for any confusion.