Bryce and Muirhead continue consistent form with semi-final finishes

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SEMI-FINALISTS: Team Muirhead. Photo: British Curling/Graeme Hart (Perthshire Picture Agency)

It was a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for both of Teams Bryce and Muirhead at the weekend.

Bryce made the semi-finals at the Latvia International Challenger, only to lose out to Team Stjerne, while Muirhead also got to the last four at the GSOC Masters, where they were beaten by Team Einarson.

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There were two Scottish teams at the second Grand Slam of the season, the Masters, with Team GB’s Olympic representatives taking on the world’s best in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were in Pool B of the men’s event alongside Teams Gushue, McEwen, Shuster and Ulsrud.

Opening defeats to Gushue (7-6) and Ulsrud (7-6) put them on the back foot right away, and although they managed to beat US rink Shuster (6-2), defeat to McEwen (6-3) ended their playoff hopes.

The title was won by reigning world champions Gushue, who beat Team Edin of Sweden 8-4 in the final.

In the women’s field, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) faced Teams Flaxey, Hasselborg, Sidorova and Sinclair in Pool A.

Wins against Sidorova (6-5) and Flaxey (7-6) got them off to an ideal start, and after a 6-4 loss to Sinclair, a 10-7 victory over Hasselborg secured their place in the knockout stages.

The quarter-finals pitted them against Team Pätz of Switzerland, with the Scots winning 5-4, thanks to two in end seven and a steal of one in the eighth.

But the last four proved their limit, as Canadians Einarson beat them 6-3 (with twos in ends three and six) – Muirhead’s conquerors finishing as runners-up to Jennifer Jones’ rink in the final (6-5).

Skip Eve Muirhead said: “Crowds have been great and to have such an atmosphere when playing is really something special; Canada really do know how to put on curling events!

“”Overall our two weeks have been a great success, beating three of the teams we are going to be coming up against in the Europeans and Korea, so this is all stepping stones towards these major events.”

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The Latvia International Challenger involved Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) on the men’s side, and Team Wilson (Maggie Wilson, Jennifer Marshall, Laura Barr, Eilidh Yeats) – plus English rink Team Farnell – on the women’s.

Both British women’s teams had their challenges ended early, with Farnell going W0 L4 and Wilson W1 L3 – their win coming against Team Rudzite of the home nation, 7-6 after an extra end.

Bryce did much better though, continuing their rich vein of form at the start of this season, as they made the playoffs with wins over Teams Bremanis (7-2), Lill (10-4), Truksans (7-1) and a loss to Hess (7-6).

Following their 7-4 victory over Team Gulbis in the last eight (stealing three in the second end), Bryce’s challenge was ended by experienced Danes Team Stjerne, who won 7-2 and went on to claim the title, while Bryce ended with a 7-3 defeat against Team Wunderer in the third place match.

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Also this weekend, the Lanarkshire leg of the Asham Under-21 Slam took place.

After 24 teams faced off across six groups, the high road final was contested by Teams Craik and McCormack, with the former (James Craik, Angus Bryce, Matthew McKenzie, Niall Ryder) scoring four in the third end on their way to a 6-2 triumph.

After a very busy day of curling we are pleased to say we have won the second leg of the Scottish U17s at Hamilton. A really tight performance throughout the day ment we won our Quarter Final Against Team Gallacher 5-1 and then followed it up in the semi with a win over Wilkie-Milne and then finally a win over Team McCormack 6-2 ment the slam was ours👍🏼 A massive thanks to our sponsors for all the support as it really makes competing in these slams so much easier for us. Up next we are back to U21s next weekend with the European Junior Curling Tour Event held in Braehead. Looking forward to pitching ourselves against several foreign teams and hoping to put in a strong performance. @fitbituk_ireland @foxglide @forfarindoorsports @ziyeninc

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Weekend round-up: Carruthers and Jones end season on high

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Champions Cup winners Team Carruthers (photo: Grand Slam of Curling/Anil Mungal)

Canada reigned supreme at the season-ending Champions Cup, Teams Carruthers and Jones winning the men’s and women’s titles respectively.

None of Scotland’s representatives made the playoffs – Teams Mouat and Murdoch went out in tiebreakers, while Team Muirhead finished W1 L3 for the competition.

Meanwhile, Ireland men just missed out at the European Championships C-Division in Slovenia, as Estonia men, France men, Belarus women and Lithuania women gained promotion to the B-Division in Braehead in November.

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The Champions Cup, a new addition to the Grand Slam of Curling tour this season, which saw the winners of various events around the world compete, was held in Sherwood Park, Alberta.

Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) started the competition well – first beating Team Meachem 7-2, with steals of one in ends one and two, three in end three and another steal in end six.

They then took victory over Team Clark of the USA – stealing one in end one, scoring two in end three, another two in end six and a steal of one in end seven, to win 6-2.

But defeats to Teams Epping (9-7, giving up threes in ends two and six) and McEwen (6-3, losing a two in end four and three in end seven) meant they finished W2 L2 and would need to negotiate a tiebreaker to make the playoffs.

By contrast, Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon, Angus Dowell) opened with two losses.

They went toe-to-toe with Team Gushue, the most consistent men’s rink on tour this season, but gave up a four in end six to lose 7-6.

It was more of the same against Team Carruthers, a four in end five doing the damage in an 8-4 defeat.

That meant they needed to beat European champions Team Edin to stay in contention – which they did 6-5, thanks to a three in end three and a steal of one in end eight.

And they earned a tiebreaker berth alongside Murdoch by defeating Team Shuster 7-2, scoring two in end two, stealing one in end three, scoring two in end five and stealing another two in end six to triumph 7-2.

Neither Scottish rink could make the quarter-finals, though, as Mouat were beaten 7-3 by Team Laycock and Murdoch went down 8-2 to Team Simmons, the 2014 and 2015 Brier winners playing their last event before disbanding.

Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Vicki Adams, Nadine Lehmann (again subbing for Anna Sloan), Sarah Reid) were already out, having won only one of their pool stage matches.

They gave up steals in ends three, four and five to lose 7-3 to Team Einarson, before getting back on track (or so it seemed) by beating Team Lawton 7-2 – scoring two in end one, then stealing in ends two, three and four.

But they then lost 6-2 to Team Jones (giving up twos in ends four, five and seven) and 7-4 to Team Flaxey (the Canadians taking twos in ends one and four), which meant an early exit.

The women’s final was contested by Teams Homan and Jones – Homan have held the advantage over the Olympic champions (and everyone else!) this season, but that was not to be the case this time.

Jones scored two in end one, then another two in end four to lead 4-1 at halfway. Homan got two back, but three in end six stretched Jones’ lead out to 7-3, and Homan couldn’t pull that back – the Jones rink winning 7-5.

As for the men’s final, Team Carruthers got the better of Team Epping to claim victory, but only after two extra ends.

The first three ends were blanked by Carruthers, who took one in the fourth. Epping scored two in end five, Carruthers two in end seven and Epping one in end eight.

The first extra end was blanked, but Carruthers got their one in the second for the inaugural title – and to round off the curling season for 2015-16.

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Back across the Atlantic, the European Championships C-Division was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia – with four places at the main Europeans event in Braehead in November at stake.

Ireland had men’s and women’s teams taking part, with the competition involving a round robin and then playoffs.

Ireland men (Alan Mitchell, Andrew Gilmore, Bob Sherrard, Tom Roche, John Gilmore (alternate)) started with a win against Serbia, 8-4, but were then beaten 10-3 by Estonia.

They hit back by defeating Croatia 8-3 but then lost again, 6-4 against Bulgaria.

A 6-3 win over France got them back on track, and they followed that with wins over Luxembourg (9-8), Andorra (12-1) and Romania (10-4).

Defeat to Belarus, 6-4, meant they had to win their last pool match to make playoffs – which they did, 8-5 against Iceland.

They were placed in the 3v4 game against Bulgaria. After leading 3-0 after two ends and 6-3 after eight, the Irish were taken to an extra end – where they scored three to win 9-6 and progress.

Qualification for Braehead came down to the silver medal match with France. Ireland blanked the first two ends, then scored three in end three.

But France scored two in end four, stole two in end five and stole a single in end six to take control. Ireland pulled it back to 5-5 after eight but the French scored two in end nine.

The 10th end ultimately rested on a final draw for the Irish, which came up a couple of inches short – that meant a score of one and a 7-6 win for France.

France joined gold winners Estonia in being promoted to European B-Division for next season – but for the disappointed Irish it must be said that bronze represents a superb result beyond expectation.

As for Ireland women (Ailsa Anderson, Katie Kerr, Hazel Gormley-Leahy, Clare McCormick), they also opened the round robin with a win, 9-6 versus Romania.

But sadly their luck ran out there, as they suffered six consecutive defeats – against Croatia (10-9), Lithuania (6-5), Slovenia (10-5), Spain (10-1), Belarus (8-3) and Austria (13-5) – to bow out early.

Belarus claimed women’s gold, with Lithuania joining them in winning promotion to the B-Division.