Scotland’s Men Back On Track At Euro Champs

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Scotland’s men got back into the groove according to their coach with a crucial win against Finland in their sixth round match at the European Curling Championships.

Representing their country for the first time at senior level in Esbjerg Team Smith had been struggling, winning just one of its previous five matches to be at the bottom of the standings and they knew improvement was necessary to secure a place in the top eight that will secure Scottish representation at this season’s World Championships.

Facing Team Kauste who were in third place and in strong contention for the medal play-offs, but whom they beat in the semi-finals on their way to winning the recent Edinburgh International, they held their nerve in what was a tight encounter, to close the match out with a three at the final end.

“I think Kyle is finding the groove in his game again, more confident with both the ice and the rocks, more back to normal,” said Viktor Kjall, their coach who is also new to this level in that role having previously been a member of Team Edin, Sweden’s leading rink.

“The play hasn't been that bad, it's just a couple of key shots that we missed, and we took them here. We took the chances we had and put a lot of pressure on our opponents and that made the difference.”

While there remains an outside chance of battling their way back into play-off contention Kjall said they would not be looking beyond their next match.

“We have the evening off then we're back on in the morning against Italy, so that's what we're focused on,” he said.

“We just need to go back now, have a little debrief about this game and make sure we use the momentum built up from today and keep rolling. I'm looking forward to it tomorrow.”
Smith admitted to some relief at re-discovering the sort of form that got them to this event.

“It’s just a case of trying to forget what had gone before as it's been a pretty awful start,” he said.

“It was a case of regrouping and trying to play a bit simpler. We stuck together as a team and made the important shots.

“When we missed shots, we made the next one to bail ourselves out so didn't make things worse as we've done the last few games.”

He was particularly pleased with the way they finished the match.

“It's always awkward being one up without [last stone]. We went quite hard for the steal, we played really well in that end and didn't give him [Aku Kauste] much.”

With that victory behind them the 23-year-old skip believes they can now turn the whole experience around.

“We came here to get experience playing at a men's event with Scotland on our backs,” he said.

“So far we've not played well enough at all. We just need to keep improving from that game there and I think we can still end up with more wins than losses. That's the goal and if we keep playing like that then we've got a chance.”

Their 7-3 victory gives them a 2-4 record with three matches still to play, one win behind a trio of teams sharing third place in the round-robin standings.

(Quotes courtesy of Richard Browne, from the roaringgameblog in Esbjerg)

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