Team Smith Just Miss Out On Semis...Twice!

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Scotland’s men have been squeezed out of the European Curling Championships in Esbjerg by the reigning world champions.

Team Smith effectively suffered twice at the hands of their vastly more experienced opponents since they would have been in the top four at the end of the round-robin stages had Team Edin, who are also the reigning European champions, managed to win their final pool match against Finland.

Instead the Swedes’ defeat, allowing their Finnish opponents to steal shots at both the final end and the extra end, meant that both rinks finished tied with Scotland and Switzerland in second place, bringing the tie-break options into the equation.

Switzerland and Finland having claimed two wins apiece in the head to heads among those four sides, went through in second and third places, leaving Scotland and Sweden, who had each won only one of those head to heads, to contest a tie break match for the final place.

It proved to be a high quality encounter, the Scots recovering to level things instantly after conceding a double at the second end, then again after conceding a triple at the fourth.

However Team Edin made the telling thrust with a double at the seventh end and Kyle Smith just failed to keep the match alive with the last stone at the final end when he removed his opponent’s shot stone, but just nudged his own stone that had been lying second too far.

A dominant performance against Germany had taken the young Scots into the knock-out stage, their two shot lead after the opening end doubled when opposing skip Alexander Baumann missed his attempt at a saving draw with the final stone at the second.

When Baumann then repeated that mistake to allow the Scots to take a three at the third the match was all but over and they retained that seven shot advantage in running out 12-5 winners.

They were then left with that anxious wait to see whether Team Edin could help them as well as making their own path to the semis more straightforward.

However, disappointing as the manner of their exit was they can take great confidence from their overall performance in adjusting to competition at this level.

It had looked as if it could be a chastening experience when they lost four of their first five matches to be bottom of the standings and even heading into that final round-robin match against Germany there was still a possibility that they could find themselves involved in a play-off to ensure Scottish involvement at this season’s World Championships, but the skip saw only slight consolation in that immediately after the defeat.

“That was probably the first goal of the week. It was just disappointing not to have also got to the semi finals,” he said.

“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.”

Getting as close as they did to a semi-final was a demonstration of considerable character at their first senior event, however as Viktor Kjall, their coach, noted, “The 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,” he said.

“It was like a completely different team. They should be really proud. It's a great first experience and they'll learn a lot from it to come back in future.”

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

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