Wales relegated at the Europeans
Left-handed James Pougher, in a red Wales jacket, delivers a stone down the ice
James Pougher (pictured at Deeside). Photo © Stephen Lambourn
Wales' only team at the 2012 European Curling Championships struggled. With no women's team entered, it was down to the men to fly the flag for Wales.  Their first match was a tight contest against Spain which brought a 1-shot win, but their remaining 6 matches went against them.  The competition ended with Wales bottom of the B-division table, meaning relegation to the C-division.The first match for Adrian Meikle's team was against Spain, and given Wales had the last stone advantage being just 2 ahead after the second end was not ideal, and Spain went 7-2 ahead over the next 2 ends.  Undeterred, Meikle's men had levelled up at 7-all in end 6. In the closing stages, Wales had a single-shot lead, Spain levelled up before Wales took a single shot lead once more in the 10th end. The second match, against Slovakia, was a much more conclusive affair - the Slovak team took that by 9 shots to 2. Match 3, against Italy, was another close affair - with the lead switching between Wales and Italy three times over the first 5 ends.  In the 8th end Italy took a 2 to go 8-4 up - and despite a good attempt over the final 2 ends, Wales could only manage 3 of the 4 points hey needed to level up. The 4th match (against Estonia) had two blanked ends in the middle, but it was the third end when Estonia took a 3 that it became difficult.  That put Wales 4-1 behind, and a single shot in the 4th widened the gap.  Despite pulling the score back to 5-3 after 8 ends, Estonia took and single shot in the 9th to make it virtually impossible for Wales to catch them - although the final end did go to Adrian Meikle, it was only a single shot to give Estonia the win 6-4. Matches against both Turkey and Finland were huge 11-3 wins for the opposition, leaving the Wales team facing a match against England to avoid relegation.  Sadly, England were ruthless in their efforts to reach the play-offs for promotion.  Wales had the hammer, but after three blanked ends were unable to take a score, and England took 2. Despite scoring in the 5th and 7th ends, Wales were always on the back foot and the 3 England took in the 6th end was difficult to ignore.  The teams eventually shook after 9 ends, with the score 7-4 to England, meaning Wales had won just a single match and will be relegated to the C-division for the 2013 competition.