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Controlling performances against Japan and Switzerland on the fifth day of competition have taken Team Mouat ever closer to earning qualification for Team GB at next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing and a play-off spot at the BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship in Calgary this week.

The Scots had suffered a real scare the previous day when, following a hard fought extra end defeat to reigning world champions Sweden by slumping to a 6-2 deficit at the halfway stage against a German team that had won only one of its previous matches. 

However, the way they recovered in the second half of that match clearly generated confidence as skip Bruce Mouat acknowledged.

“That Germany game yesterday has really kind of turned on a light almost for what we really needed to do here,” he said.

“It’s made it even more important for us to come out and focus really hard on getting a good start because yesterday was pretty rough to be fair and we were pretty bummed after the first five ends against the Germans, but we’ve really picked up the last 25 ends that we’ve played, so we’re in a good spot.”

That renewed focus was evident from the outset as Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan all produced perfectly executed shots to set things up at the opening end against Japan and Mouat took his cue to follow suit and register the two that put them in charge. 

They then stole a shot at the second end to move three ahead and they kept that advantage to the halfway break.

Their opponents responded by claiming a two at the sixth, but after blanking the seventh end and being forced at the eighth, the Scots stole another shot at the ninth before clinically running Japan out of stones at the final end.

They were straight back onto the ice for the day’s final round of matches against fellow play-off contenders Switzerland and having set high standards in that previous match, they then found another gear when they had to.

The tone was set at the opening two ends as they forced the Swiss, then registered a two at the second to edge into a lead and, for all that it remained close on the scoreboard throughout, Mouat’s men were outplaying their opposite numbers in every position. 

Mouat’s stats, shooting 95% on the night, reflected both his form and the way his teammates were setting things up for him and he finally took the chance to make their dominance pay off when Benoit Schwarz, playing last stones for the Swiss, missed an attempted double take out with his first stone and was then left with no choice but to leave the Scottish skip a straightforward take out for a two.

Mouat then applied the coup de grace at the ninth end with a perfectly executed hit and roll onto the button that left Schwarz with no option but to try an ambitious angled raise and, when that failed, the steal left Mouat 7-4 up heading into the end where it was once again a relatively straightforward job of running the opposition out of stones.

“Those were two really important wins for us,” said Mouat. 

“We’ve played both these teams before at World Championships and come off worse in both those games, so this time it was really nice to get the wins.

“It’s all the more important because it puts us in a really good spot, keeping us in second place in the standings and we’re just looking forward to getting some more curling because we’re really enjoying what we’re doing out here.”

The Scots face a tough finishing run, with all four of their remaining matches against teams that are still in contention for the six play-off places that will, in turn, secure that Olympic qualification and that run starts, aptly enough with the first match of another two-day game against the reigning Olympic champions.

“The USA will be a really good team to play against and we’re looking forward to that and Italy are strong too,” Mouat noted. 

Day 1 Results
Scotland v Canada 6-9
Scotland v Denmark 7-2

Day 2 Results
Scotland v Netherlands 9-4
Scotland v Korea 11-4

Day 3 Results
Scotland v China 10-1

Day 4 Results
Scotland v Sweden 5-6 (EE)
Scotland v Germany 9-8

Day 5 Results
Scotland v Japan 6-3
Scotland v Switzerland 7-4

Day 6
Scotland v USA
Scotkand v Italy

WCF Results:

Images: WCF/Jeffrey Au

#WMCC2021 #curling #roadto2022 #cheerfromoverhere

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