Esbjerg Daily: European Curling Championships 2015 – Day 7

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Down HOW MANY after three? FIVE?!? Photo: World Curling Federation

There was one almighty comeback and an oh-so-nearly game for Scotland on Thursday in Esbjerg, as the women won a remarkable semi final with Finland but the men were edged out in the playoff tiebreaker by Sweden.

Kyle Smith’s men’s team (who had to win to have a chance at making the last four) got the day off to a rip-roaring start against Alexander Baumann’s Germany, scoring two in end one, stealing two in end two and stealing three in end end for a rapid 7-0 lead!

After that, they took their ones with hammer, only gave up a couple of twos and then scored three in end nine to prompt handshakes at 12-5.

Skip Kyle Smith said: “We played a pretty good first end and then their skip, fortunately for us, missed a couple of draws and that really got us off to a big start.

“[Then] we made our peels and made sure I had a draw with my last one when we had the hammer and tried not to give them three when they had the hammer, and just kept it as clean as we could.

“It’s really pleasing to be on four wins in a row now – hopefully we can keep that going.”

Norway finished top of the men’s round robin standings with nine wins and no losses.

Switzerland beat the Netherlands to confirm their semi final place, while Finland’s extra-end win over Sweden meant they made the final four and forced Niklas Edin’s Sweden into the tiebreaker with Scotland.

A pulsating encounter saw the sides trade punches – twos and then threes – to see them tied at 5-5 at the fifth end break.

Sweden scored a two in end seven and Scotland just couldn’t get one back, so went down and out 8-7.

Skip Smith said: “We didn’t force them enough, they made some good twos. We had to do more to force or maybe steal. Disappointing in the end.”

On the competition as a whole, he added: “There’s been a lot of downs, but it’s kind of pleasing to come so close after the start to the week we had.”

Team coach Viktor Kjäll said: “They way they turned this round from being one win and four losses to being in the playoff tiebreaker, I’m really impressed with how they played the last four-five games.

“They should be really proud. It’s a great first experience and they’ll learn a lot from it to come back in future.”

***

With the men’s resolute effort over, it was down to Eve Muirhead’s women’s rink to keep the Scottish flag flying.

They faced Finland in the semi finals, a team they’d beaten 8-1 in the round robin – but couldn’t have imagined a worse start.

Oona Kauste’s Finns stole twos in ends one and two, then one in end three, to lead 5-0 – but, crucially, Scotland scored three in end four and stole one in end four.

From there the Scottish machine really kicked into gear, pulling the game back to 6-6 before a steal of two in end eight proved decisive – that put them 8-6 up and the match was won 9-7.

Skip Muirhead said: “It’s always going to be a tough comeback, but take away the first three ends and we played a fantastic seven ends.

“We knew that we could get our twos and force the ones – the three in the fourth end was a bonus.

“It just shows the fight in our team, that we stick together.

“Russia to come now; it should be a really good game and we’re looking forward to it.

“Tomorrow we have a day off, so a bit of practice in the morning and have a chilled afternoon – probably come watch the men’s semi finals – and then get ready for our final!”

Russia booked their place in the final with a 6-5 victory over hosts Denmark.

***

England men got the British teams’ day in the B-Division off to a good start, defeating Croatia 8-4 with twos in ends four and seven plus a three in end nine.

Spain did them a favour too, beating Israel to set up an England-Israel tiebreaker to make the promotion playoffs.

Alan MacDougall’s England weren’t able to capitalise on that, though, as the Israelis won 8-2.

Also in tiebreaker action were Anna Fowler’s England women, and they were successful in their game – needing a double takeout in end 10 against Turkey, Fowler made it, the win secured 8-7.

That set up a semi final with Italy in the evening – a tight game that was 3-3 after nine ends.

Italy had hammer in the final end; skip Federica Apollonio’s last stone picked, but incredibly managed a raise takeout that scored four and won the game 7-3.

The result means England miss out on A-Division promotion for next year, but they still have a match for bronze to come.

***

Tomorrow will start with Wales men facing Croatia in a relegation playoff from 09.00 CET – win that, and their place in the B-Division is secure. Lose, and they get a second chance to save themselves on Saturday.

England women play Latvia for B-Division bronze from 13.30 CET, the same time as the men’s A-Division semi finals – Norway v Sweden and Finland v Switzerland.

The A-Division men’s and women’s bronze medal matches then take place in the evening, from 19.00 CET.

You can get updates via @RoaringGameBlog on Twitter and Facebook, plus shot-by-shot coverage of several games through CurlingGeek.

Eurosport and World Curling TV will televise one of the men’s semi finals, and one of the bronze medal games.

For full fixtures and results, see the event website, plus photo galleries here.

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