Following their opening loss to Norway, it was clear the Scots meant business from the start in the game against USA. Good team set-up play gave them a single steal in the first end, and then in the fourth a good draw by Murdoch gave Scotland two more for a 3-1 lead.
USA levelled in the fifth at 3-3, and in the sixth the Scots’ confidence became evident as Murdoch drew a well-judged final stone inside four USA stones to take the lead again at 4-3. USA levelled again in the seventh end, but in the eighth good set-up throughout the end led to Murdoch having a relatively straightforward draw for five shots which he made, forcing USA to concede.
Later, against Japan, who were unbeaten at this stage, Scotland dominated, opening the scoring with one shot in the first end. In the second end, Japan’s skip Yusuke Morozumi promoted one of his own stones into the house to score two points and take a 2-1 lead.
The Scots responded with Murdoch scoring two shots for 3-1 with a well-judged draw. Japan levelled at 3-3 with a nose-hit in the fourth end but Murdoch produced a hit and stay for two in the fifth, to take a 5-3 lead into the break.
A good double take-out by Greg Drummond set the Scots up well in the sixth end and when Morozumi was short with his final draw, Scotland stole one and extended their lead to 6-3.
In the seventh end Morozumi played a hit and stay for one point that reduced Scotland’s lead to 6-4, but, after blanking the eighth end, Murdoch played a draw within two Japanese stones already in the house in the ninth, to score one point and take a 7-4 lead. This remained the final score when Scotland ran Japan out of stones in the tenth end.
Afterwards, Murdoch said: “We’re obviously delighted. It’s been a tough day against USA and Japan, two teams that were in the play-offs last year, and we came out today and played really solid.”
He added: “We controlled the [USA] game from start to finish.
“We gave up a cheap two early but other than that we dominated the scoreboard. That was probably as good as this afternoon. The steal was the key moment and we dominated them [Japan].
“Once we were two up we were looking good and the guys played really solid.”
Murdoch added: “For us two wins today for vital to keep our play-off hopes alive. We’ve done that, but it’s one step at a time.”
The Scots now face China and then table-topping Canada, who are unbeaten.