A case of so near and yet so far again for Scotland’s curling men

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Tom Brewster’s Scotland team came agonisingly close to landing the World curling title in Basel, Switzerland, yesterday afternoon, but his final shot in the tenth end of a tense final was an inch out and he nudged out one of his own stones as well as his Canadian target.

This meant Scotland could only score one shot, rather than the two needed for victory.

This pushed the game into an extra end in which Canada used last stone advantage to score one with a well-judged draw to take the title, by 8-7.

Scotland managed to steal a single in the first end when Canadian skip Glenn Howard rolled too far with his final hit of the end, but the first major break-through came in the third end when Brewster was heavy with his last stone, leaving Howard an easy hit to score three for a 3-1 lead.

Despite this setback, the Scots drew level in the next end when Brewster was able to draw for two. The teams swapped singles in the next two ends and, in the seventh, Howard was just good enough with a delicate tap-up to score two for a 6-4 lead.

But staying tenacious all the way, the Scots responded in the next end when Brewster had a draw for two to level the game again, at 6-6. The Scots forced Canada to take a single in the ninth end and Brewster then carved out his chance to win in the tenth, but his hit was just not precise enough, and the game went to an extra end.

Canada had the crucial last stone advantage in this end and eventually Howard drew within a Scottish stone already sitting in the house to score the one point needed, and what was – for Howard – a third world title.

After the game, a deflated Brewster said, “I’m gutted. I thought we were the better team, I really did. I thought we played some great curling, an inch more curl on that shot in the tenth and we’re there”.

The official performance statistics of the event backed up Brewster’s claim, with the Scots marked at 86 per cent success by comparison with Canada’s 83 per cent, while Brewster’s rating was 89 per cent, Howard’s 81 per cent.

This was the second successive final loss for Brewster and his team and, thinking about that, he said: “Twelve months ago we were in the same position and we’re miles better than last year. We’ve made big improvements on fitness and sweeping, and we’ve just got more experience. Our team played great here – what an effort! We’ve had a strong week here and we’ve got a big future”.

Meanwhile, an elated Howard said: “I won my first world title 25 years ago, and this one’s just as special, maybe more so. It just feels great to win. This win feels special; they get more special because I don’t think I’ll be getting back [to the World Championship].

“I can’t give enough praise to my team, they’ve been fantastic all year. We hung in there, it wasn’t our ‘A’ game, but we got it done with a ‘B+’ game”.

Howard was gracious about his opponents, “Brewster and the boys threw everything at us – we were a little fortunate” he said, “he threw a good shot in ten and it didn’t curl – I don’t know why. I was worried watching it – if he makes it, its game over and he’s the world champion”.

Earlier, Sweden beat Norway by 9-8 in an extra end to take bronze.