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 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.