SILVER FOR SCOTS AS SWEDES SET NEW STANDARDS AT WORLDS
Scotland’s Team Mouat were left to look for the silver lining after their BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship run ended with defeat by Sweden’s defending champions in a hard fought final,
The scoreline of 10-5 in no way reflected the overall match, Scotland’s need to take risks with time running out, allowing the opportunity for Niklas Edin to play a well-judged double take-out and claim five shots at the ninth end, doubling his team’s tally to clinch the win.
It was a third successive World Championship win for Edin and a fifth title overall for the Swedish skip who has been the dominant figure in the global game since winning his first world title eight years ago.
Briuce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan had been the men who had ended his four-year winning streak at the European Championships on their debut in that event two seasons ago, however, this time around they had to make do with silver medals.
That was an upgrade on their previous best when they lost in the semi-finals, then won their bronze medal play-off, but after a year out of international competition they could draw considerable satisfaction from having gone the distance in the event, crucially achieving their first priority of earning Winter Olympic qualification for Team GB on the way.
“There was a lot of pressure this week for multiple reasons,” Bruce Mouat said afterwards.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and get this far and we played so well to get here and I’m sure it’ll feel good in a couple of days that we’ve beaten our own record of a bronze medal.”
They had ensured that earlier in a final day that had involved a compressed schedule as a result of the postponement of matches on Saturday following an outbreak of Covid in the Calgary bubble, by beating RCF 5-3 in a hard-fought semi-final.
“It was a strong performance in the semi-final,” Mouat continued.
“We controlled the game and forced them into playing better than we did in our round-robin game, so I was very proud of how we all went about that game and came out with the intent of winning both games today.
“It was a really good performance against the Russians and I actually feel like we played better than the Swedes for a while and probably feel like we should have had a lead going into the latter half. However, they’re so experienced and they made a ton of shots and put us under a lot of pressure, especially in that ninth end and unfortunately we just didn’t make all our shots to make the force we were looking for and they got that big five, which was curtains for the game.
In the final they showed their readiness and intent at the opening end when eight perfect stones left Niklas Edin facing four shots with his final stone and needing to draw to the edge of the button.
The Swede then demonstrated his class by nudging the shot Scottish stone that was biting the button aside to save the situation for his team and claim the lead.
Another well set up end at the second put the pressure on the defending champion once again and when he was slightly heavy with his final stone, Mouat capitalised to take out Sweden’s shot stone and lie the two that made it a text book start for the 2018 bronze medallists.
However, the Swedes responded and when Mouat came up light with an attempt to draw with his first stone, he had little choice but to leave his opposite number with a straightforward draw to the four foot for a two at the third and Edin duly reclaimed the advantage at 3-2.
A fluke shot by Rasmus Wrana, clipping a guard to leave his team lying three, gave Swedes the upper hand at the fourth end and while the Scots largely recovered the situation to be lying shot by the time their skip delivered the last stone, Mouat was ultimately left with an extremely difficult draw to the button to make a two and came up fractionally light, so had to settle for levelling the scores.
The Scots worked their way out of another precarious situation when Sweden looked to be building the opportunity to claim a big score at the fifth end, but Edin was ultimately forced to draw to the button for a single shot to nudge his team back in front.
Aiming for a blanked end to retain the hammer going into the eighth, Edin made a rare error in failing to hit anything when attempting a double take out, which allowed Mouat to put a third stone in the house and force the Swede to take a single, but the Scots were unable to take full advantage when Mouat was forced to draw to the four foot to level the scores yet again at 5-5.
The match was so close that the Scots knew they had to risk bringing a lot of stones into play at the ninth end and the result of that was that a solitary Scottish stone was in among four Swedish stones when the Scots called their timeout ahead of their last delivery. Following that discussion, however, Mouat came up lighter than he had intended leaving Edin a double which he made to claim a killer count of five and bring the concession.
“We had to force it a bit,” Mouat explained.
“We had a few misses in that ninth end which didn’t really help us, but they made all theirs which helped them. So, it’s tough to look back on it right now. Maybe in a couple of days or weeks we’ll maybe be able to look back and be very proud of what we’ve done here, but it’s pretty tough right now.”
“There’s been a lot of pressure on us in terms of qualifying Great Britain a spot at the Olympics and as much as we really didn’t want to be thinking about that, it’s always in the back of our minds,” Mouat admitted.
“So, to have that on our backs, then get to a world final just shows the strength of this team. I say it a lot, but the guys are amazing players and I’m just really honoured to be able to be part of this team and to skip it is a privilege.
“We’ll look back on this as a proud moment I’m sure, but we’ve got unfinished business at the Worlds, so we’ll come back fighting.”
Day 1 Results
Scotland - Canada 6-9
Scotland - Denmark 7-2
Day 2 Results
Scotland - Netherlands 9-4
Scotland - Korea 11-4
Day 3 Results
Scotland - China 10-1
Day 5 Results
Scotland - Japan 6-3
Scotland - Switzerland 7-4
Day 6 Results
Scotland - USA 9-10 (EE)
Scotland - Italy 7-2
Day 7 Results
Scotland - RCF 2-9 Q
Day 8 Results
Scotland - Norway 7-6
Scotland - Canada 5-3
Scotland –RCF 5-3
Final Result – GOLD medal match
Scotland 5 – Sweden 10
Bronze medal match
Switzerland 6- RCF 5
Images: WCF/Jeffrey Au
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