Wales fall to consistent Swiss

Wales have to dust themselves down after coming up against a very consistent performance from Switzerland.

The match started well, as despite losing the Draw Shot Challenge Wales set the first end up with good guards and draws placing pressure on Switzerland. However, one mistake meant Switzerland managed to take two shots from that end.

After that things began to run away from Wales, as Switzerland then stole another score of two in the second end.

Wales suffered from ice that appeared to run slightly straight in the third end, as Switzerland eventually got three shots counting before Andrew Tanner threw his final stone down to freeze onto the shot stone and take a single shot for Wales.

Only three shots behind and attempting to steal, Wales tried to play the standard guarding tactics, but the Swiss continued to clear well and in the end decided to blank the end.

After the half-time break, Switzerland managed to keep control, only allowing Wales to score a single shot in end 6, and when Switzerland took two in the seventh end it brought Wales’ deficit to 6 shots. This being too much of a task, Wales offered the handshake.

Wales were not consistent enough to compete at the level they had hoped for, and Switzerland played to a good standard, missing only one significant shot in the entire match. Wales need to play well in their remaining matches as they will need to win all their remaining games to have a good chance of qualifying for the knock-out stage.

Wales’ next match is on Tuesday morning (06:00 BST, 08:00 local time) against Turkey, who have yet to lose a match at these championships.

First win of 2016 World Mixed for Wales

Emily, David, Laura and Andrew with the score from their first win at the 2016 World Mixed Championships

Emily, David, Laura and Andrew with the score from their first win at the 2016 World Mixed Championships

Wales are now mid-table after their first victory at the 2016 World Mixed Curling Championships. It marks not only the first victory for Wales at this venue in Kazan, but also three personal firsts.

The win over Croatia, which came after the full eight ends led to tied scores and an Extra End, was the first win at a WCF International event for Andrew Tanner in his new capacity as skip. It also marked the first victory at this level for Emily Sandwith (Lead) and David Peek (Second).

Wales had a better chance at the Last Stone Draw in this match, as while Croatia covered the centre circle of the house with one stone, their second draw shot was far too heavy. Unfortunately, Wales were unable to better Croatia’s combined score from the Draw Shot and so started first again.

Wales were somewhat unlucky in the first end, as Croatia managed to make a double-takeout shot completely by accident, leaving the way open for their score of 2. From then on, Wales generally had the upper hand in the match but failed to inflict a killer blow. There were some good shots but it was a struggle to string enough together to build pressure, meaning by the close of the seventh end Wales still only led 6-4.

End eight started fairly well for Wales, with a shot stone and a guard in place, but some imperfect shots from Wales and decent play by Croatia meant Wales were at risk of giving up a score of three and losing the match when Andrew Tanner came to play his last stone. The shot called was to come around the Croatian guard and remove the shot stone from play – but the stone drew too much and caught the edge of the guard, and if it had swung any further there was a risk the guard could have been promoted into the house. Croatia played a good draw and took two shots to level the match.

The Extra End started well for Wales. They kept the end as clean as possible, removing any stone in the house and clearing guards once the fifth stone was in play.

There was one moment when Wales got a bit of good fortune, when a clearance shot hung wide and somehow caught enough of the Croatian shot stone to remove it from play. Although it was behind the tee-line and so would have been useful to draw up to, removing that stone meant that when Andrew Tanner came to play his final stone all it needed to do was to bite the 8-foot circle. With a little help from the sweepers, the stone made it to the right spot and Wales took a win by 1 shot.

Speaking after the win, skip Andrew Tanner said “The opposition played really well. It was a very close game, it went back and forth between the two teams and in the end went to an Extra End. I think we just managed to build that last end up and keep it open so that I could draw the winning shot in, but it was a very close game. It could have gone either way.

“We would love to get through to the quarter-finals, and at that point it is anybody’s game. We have lost to Germany already, who are a very tough team. We have the Swiss tomorrow who we know will be another tough game, and I think if we can get a few more wins then who knows – we might be there for the quarterfinals. I think that would be our aim, we will see how far we get in the competition.”

The result puts Wales in a mid-table position in Group E, level with Switzerland who lost against Germany on the same session.

Wales’ next match is on Monday morning (10:00 BST, 12:00 local time) against Switzerland. The team hope that they can raise their game to have a competitive match.

Wales look to Croatia game after loss

Wales next to hosts Russia at the Opening Ceremony of #wmxcc2016 – photo © WCF

The Wales Mixed Curling team are looking towards their second match of the 2016 World Mixed championships with some confidence; that’s despite losing out 7-3 to the German team in their opening match.

Germany started well by “touching the button” twice with their Last Stone Draw, giving Wales a tough challenge – and with the extremely fast ice at Kazan it proved too difficult to beat, meaning Germany took the hammer advantage in the first end.

However, the match got off to a good start when in end 1 Wales managed to restrict Germany to scoring just a single shot. Unfortunately, the second end was a struggle especially with some stones hung wider than expected, and Germany ended up extending their lead to 3 shots.

Looking for a score of 2 in the third end, Wales got off to a good start with some very good guards, and when Laura Beever played her second shot, a draw behind a centre guard, it seemed like the end was set up. However, Germany played a perfect freeze onto the Welsh shot stone and other than Wales guarding against any possible raise by Germany it proved impossible for either team to improve on that situation.

At the half-time break, Germany led 4-1, and end five took a similar route to end 4, both teams playing well enough to force just a single shot.

Wales decided they had to make a move in the sixth end, as they were beginning to run out of ends to catch Germany. Wales initially laid the standard initial guards and Germany drew into the house rather than attempting the tick-shot while the Free Guard Zone still applied. After that, Germany attempted to clear them, and at one point Wales debated whether to remove the German shot stones from the house or to replace the centre guard. The decision was made in favour of the guard, but Wales fell victim to the speed of the ice and the stone sailed through the house, setting Germany up well for a critical score of 3.

Wales could only take a single shot from end 7, and as it was unlikely they would steal 4 in the eighth end the teams shook hands with the score Germany 7-3 Wales, a scoreline that was a fair reflection of where most of the control of the match lay.

Germany were always going to be tough opponents – like Wales they have previously won the (now defunct) European Mixed championships, and the team were slightly disappointed but not surprised to be beaten. There was a good mixture of positives and items to work on for the next match, which is on Sunday morning (10:00 BST, 12:00 local time) against Croatia. The team hope that play at a similar level will give them a fighting chance in that match.

Wales in battle to avoid relegation

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

Wales’ men are now in the relegation play-offs at the European Curling Championships 2015, after failing to secure their B-Division spot in the Round Robin. The team could have secured their place on Wednesday afternoon with a win over Lithuania, but lost that match to end up 7th (out of 8) in the table.

James Pougher and his team are up against Croatia this morning, and a win here would be enough to keep Wales in the B-Division and secure a spot at the 2016 Championships in Braehead.

If Wales lose, they will still have one last chance to stay up – they would face either Belgium or Estonia at the same time tomorrow.

Should Wales retain their B-Division place, they now know which of this year’s A-Division teams will be joining them – the men from the Netherlands and Czech Republic have only 5 Round Robin wins between them.

Wales beat Hungary but need another win

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

With any thought of promotion to the A-Division long gone, it’s now a battle to avoid relegation for Wales’ men at the European Curling Championships 2015, and they gave themselves a much better chance by beating Hungary this morning. The 10-8 victory was only secured in the 10th end, and the lead switched between the teams throughout – with the scores levelled three times after the first end.

Wales now lie joint fifth in the group table, and need a win in their final Group Round Robin match against Lithuania if they are to have the best chance of staying in the B-Division.

The fact that Wales have beaten Hungary should help them out if Hungary beat Belgium in their final match, but ideally Wales would want either Belgium to win or Turkey to beat Poland – either of those results would ensure Wales’ safety as long as James Pougher’s team win their own game.

If things go differently, Wales may need to go through a tie-breaker or directly into a relegation play-off match, which is best avoided.

Group A standings after 6 matches

# Team P W L
1 Denmark 6 6 0
2 Lithuania 6 4 2
2 Slovenia 6 4 2
4 Turkey 6 3 3
5 Hungary 6 2 4
5 Poland 6 2 4
5 Wales 6 2 4
8 Belgium 6 1 5

Wales’ final Group match (Wednesday, 3pm GMT) is against Lithuania.

Wales sit seventh after 4 matches

Five men in semi-profile wearing red and green outfits

Team Pougher.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher (alternate), Garry Coombs (lead), Rhys Phillips (second), Jamie Fletcher (third/vice-skip), James Pougher (skip)

After four matches at the European Curling Championships 2015, Wales now lie seventh in the group table. It comes after a tough day of play on Sunday – they took two losses from their matches today against Poland and Denmark.

Poland entered a totally different team to the competition this year, after their previous team finished 6th in the 2014 Championships’ B-Division. The Wales team started well by stealing 1 in the first end, but that was the only time James Pougher’s team had a lead. By the 5th end Poland had opened up a 2-shot lead at 5-3, and Poland built on that in the second half of the match, shaking after the 9th end was completed with the score at Poland 8-5 Wales.

Denmark, who were relegated from the A-Division at last year’s competition, have entered a team which retains the core players of Rasmus Stjerne (skip), Troels Harry (lead) and Olivier Dupont (Alternate, previously Second) but introduces two new players as well. A recently-relegated team playing on home ice, they were always going to be tough to beat, and when the Danish managed to take a score of 4 in the first end, Wales were always likely to struggle. Wales didn’t simply capitulate; James Pougher’s team managed to score in the second end, but when Denmark took a 3 in the 5th end the score reached 9-1 and the match was effectively over. Tournament rules meant they had to play at least 6 ends, and Wales took one more shot, giving a final score of 9-2 to Denmark.

It leaves Wales with a lot of work to do in their remaining three group matches if they want to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive, although it is still possible. At the end of the Round Robin (Thursday) it is the teams ranked 1 and 2 in each group who go through, and second-ranked Slovenia have won only three of their first 4 matches so could still be caught by any of the teams below them.

Group A standings after 4 matches

# Team P W L
1 Denmark 4 4 0
2 Slovenia 4 3 1
3 Hungary 4 2 2
3 Lithuania 4 2 2
3 Poland 4 2 2
3 Turkey 4 2 2
7 Wales 4 1 3
8 Belgium 4 0 4

Wales’ next match (Monday, 3pm GMT) is against Belgium, a team who held onto their B-Division place last year – equalling Wales’ record of 4 wins and 3 losses – but have yet to win a single game at these Championships.

Wales v. Turkey

Turkey men’s team 2015. Pictured: Fourth – Alican KARATAS (Skip) Third – Melik SENOL Second – Ugurcan KARAGOZ Lead – Muhammet Oguz ZENGIN Alternate – Kadir CAKIR Photo: © World Curling Federation

Wales’s men were up against Turkey in their second match at the European Curling Championships 2015.

Like Wales, Turkey have only made small changes to their line-up compared with 12 months ago. They were drawn in opposite groups at Monthey, so most of the current team members have never met each other.

By the fifth end, the teams were level at 3-3, but Turkey took a 3 with the “hammer” in that fifth end to lead 6-3 at the mid-session break. Sadly, it was a deficit the Wales team could never make up, and the teams shook before finishing the 8th end when Turkey were 9-3 ahead.

Sunday is now a crucial day for Wales, as they need to get at least one win from the day to have a realistic chance of making it past the group stages of the competition. They face Poland at 12:00 Central European Time (11:00 GMT) and then Denmark at 20:00 CET (19:00 GMT). Live scores are available via the official competition website. We will also post regular updates on both the Welsh Curling and Team Pougher Facebook and twitter feeds.

Must-win situation for Team Meikle

Hungary and Wales both needed a timeout to analyse this situation

Hungary and Wales both needed a timeout to analyse this situation

Wales have an uphill battle ahead of them if they want to qualify for the knock-out stage of this year’s European Curling Championships. Adrian Meikle’s team lost their second match of the B-Division contest today as Hungary found form exactly when they needed it. Continue reading

Wales joint top of table after 2 matches

Wales' Men's team for 2014-15 season. Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher, Garry Coombs, Rhys Phillips, James Pougher (skip), Adrian Meikle (alternate)

Wales’ Men’s team for 2014-15 season.
Pictured (l-r): Simon Pougher, Garry Coombs, Rhys Phillips, James Pougher, Adrian Meikle

Wales’s men have got off to a great start at the European Curling Championships 2014.

After beating Finland in a very tight match on Saturday evening, they dominated this morning’s match against Romania, taking victory by 11 shots to 3. The key to the victory in both cases was getting several stones in the house, meaning their opposition was forced to take on a precision draw, or risk rolling out of the house with a takeout shot.

Both matches have seen Adrian Meikle in the head as Skip, and throwing last stones, rather than James Pougher – who was originally listed as Skip.

The result against Romania means Wales sit joint top in their section of the B-Division – with 2 wins from 2 matches, they are level with Hungary; Wales and Hungary meet on Tuesday.

Remember, you can see highlights of the team’s performances on the Welsh Curling YouTube channel.