Brewster and Muirhead to represent Scotland in Braehead

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Team Brewster, men’s winners in Perth (photo: twitter.com/Team_Brewster/status/787670325081305089)

Teams Brewster and Muirhead did it again – overcoming their compatriots to represent Scotland on the international stage.

Last season’s Scottish Championships winners (and subsequent World Championships participants) will be the home teams at next month’s European Championships in Braehead.

Speaking of Worlds, four Scots are taking part in the World Mixed Curling Championship in Kazan, Russia, and so far have won two from two.

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Perth hosted the Playdowns to decide who would represent Scotland at the upcoming home European Championships – involving three men’s teams and two women’s.

Teams Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) played a double round robin before a best-of-three final.

It was Murdoch who made the fast start, with two wins. First they overcame Brewster 7-5 (scoring twos in ends two, five and eight, and stealing one in end nine) and then they defeated Smith 8-5, with three in end two, two in end five and a steal of two in end 10.

 

However, Brewster got their first win on the board by edging Smith 6-5 (two in end two, steal of one in eight and using hammer for one in end 1o) and then drew level at the top of the standings on W2 L1 courtesy of a 6-3 victory over Murdoch, scoring two in end three and stealing three in end four.

Smith, who have had an impressive start to the season but found themselves W0 L2 here, had to beat Murdoch to keep their hopes of making the final alive. But again they suffered a 6-5 defeat, giving up a three in end six having been 4-1 up after five ends.

Already qualified Brewster then won 9-7 against Smith in the final round robin match, last season’s European qualifiers departing with no wins and four defeats.

The first of the final matches saw Brewster storm into a 4-0 lead through a steal of one in end two and two in end three, though Murdoch narrowed the gap to 4-2 at halfway.

Brewster, undeterred, scored two in end six and stole one in end seven to win the match 7-2.

Murdoch therefore had to win the next game, but were struck a heavy blow when Brewster scored three in end three, then stole one in end five, leading 5-1 at the halfway mark.

The rinks then exchanged twos up to end nine, where Brewster’s takeout for a deuce prompted handshakes at 9-5 – and European qualification for his team.

 

As for the women, Teams Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) and Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Kelly Schafer, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) went head-to-head in a best-of-five series.

Muirhead laid down an early statement of intent with a 9-3 win in the opener, scoring three in end five and twos in ends seven and nine.

The second match was tighter, Fleming scoring two in end four but Muirhead leading 3-2 at halfway… then taking a steal of three in end six. Two in end seven and a steal of one in end eight couldn’t pull it back for Fleming, Muirhead winning 7-5.

 

Fleming needed victory in the third match to stay in contention, and started it with a steal of two in end one. Muirhead, though, scored twos in ends two and four, the game level at 4-4 after five.

Muirhead took two in end six, but Fleming replied with two in end eight – the rinks then exchanging ones to set up an extra end at 7-7. Crucially for Muirhead, they held hammer in the extra, and scored two for a 9-7 victory – and qualification for Braehead.

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Also this weekend, the World Mixed Curling Championships began in Kazan, Russia, with Scotland in Pool A alongside Belarus, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway (the defending champions) and Romania.

Scotland’s team is the same as in 2015 – Cameron Bryce, Katie Murray, Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson – and they have made a positive start this year, with three wins.

Those have come against Italy (8-3), Norway (8-1) – albeit an entirely new Norwegian team to last year’s champions – and Japan (7-4).

Scotland’s next match is against Romania tomorrow, 2pm UK time.

Follow their progress in the remaining games here, or via the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter pages.

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European Playdowns: Teams Muirhead and Smith heading to Denmark

Team Muirhead went unbeaten as they qualified for the European Curling Championships in Esbjerg next month – and they will be joined in Denmark by Team Smith, who recovered from a poor start to win six straight games and book their own European spot.

The European Playdowns, held at the Dewars Centre in Perth, involved four men’s and three women’s teams, each playing double round robin matches for a place in the best-of-three finals.

Despite the loss of lead Sarah Reid to injury, Team Muirhead won all of their round robin matches to reach the women’s final.

Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan and Vicki Adams were joined by Rachel Hannen for the event, and they very nearly lost their first match playing together.

Going into the last end of their first game versus Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Lorna Vevers, Alice Spence, Abi Brown) 6-5 down and without hammer, they managed to steal two points to win the game 7-6.

They then defeated Team Gray (Lauren Gray, Jen Dodds, Vicky Wright, Mhairi Baird) 6-5, before seeing off Fleming again 8-3 and Gray 11-1.

Gray won their first meeting with Fleming 7-6, but Fleming took the second 10-7, which meant a tiebreaker was needed to decide who would play Muirhead in the final. With a three in end five and twos in ends one, three and eight, it was Gray who won it 10-4.

The women’s final (Muirhead having a one-game start) saw Muirhead lead 5-2 after six ends, only for Gray to hit back with twos in ends seven and nine to level it up at 6-6. Muirhead had hammer in the decisive 10th end, though, and scored the one needed to win the final and qualify for Esbjerg.

The men’s double round robin saw Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) sprint out of the blocks, as they won their first three matches.

By contrast, Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) lost their first two games, leaving them behind Brewster and also Teams MacDonald (Ewan MacDonald, David Edwards, Ruairidh Greenwood, Euan Byers) and Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow).

The turning point for Smith was a Thursday evening game with MacDonald (which you can watch here) – a three in end six and twos in ends one and eight vital in an 8-4 win over the reigning Scottish champions.

Brewster lost both of their Friday games to Smith (8-5) and Murdoch (5-2), but then beat MacDonald 6-5 to claim a place in the final on a W4 L2 round robin record.

With MacDonald having fallen away to W1 L5, that left Murdoch and Smith in a straight shoot-out to make the final. And it was Smith who won that match, their fourth in a row, 8-3.

The first leg of the Brewster-Smith final went to an extra end, Brewster tying it up 6-6 in the 10th. That gave Smith hammer advantage in the extra, and they made good on that, scoring the one required for a 7-6 win.

And Smith wrapped up the final and European qualification with a 4-3 second-leg win, taking hammer into the 10th end and scoring the necessary one.

Teams Muirhead and Smith can now look ahead to representing Scotland at the European Curling Championships in Esbjerg from November 20-28.

See a photo gallery from the qualifiers in Perth here.