Murrayfield Curling, 12th February 2012
Edinburgh University found themselves ruing missed opportunities after this vital Linlithgow League match against the Vets ended in a disappointing defeat. The team had something of an international feel to it, as a lone Caledonian (Michael Nicholson) was joined in the back-end by an Englishman (Ted Edmunds)- his pairs partner- with an Irishman (Eoin McCrossan) and American (Schuyler Ward) completing the quartet.
Edinburgh felt their way into this game carefully, playing somewhat defensively in the first two ends. While the hitting game might be “the penalty of youth” as suggested by one of the Vets, the tactic proved sound, as some solid takeout work saw Edinburgh steal three in the first two ends.
In the third, a more aggressive approach emerged, with the house becoming extremely congested. Faced with an Edinburgh stone covering part of the button (Edmunds’ second, a delicate draw), and a guddle surrounding it, the Vets skip could do nothing but play a heavy weight straight into the pack. The shot scattered the stones around the house and gave his team a clear single, with the potential for two more. The measure was called for and, though it was close, a total of three was added to the scoreboard to square things up.
Edinburgh allowed their heads to drop somewhat in the fourth, missing some relatively easy draws to allow the Vets to put pressure on them. As Nicholson stepped up for his last shot, he found himself facing a draw against three to the eight-foot. The shot was a touch light, yet made it, thanks to some good sweeping.
The Vets began to turn the screw in the next, with a lovely guard from their lead giving ample cover to hide behind. Edinburgh could do nothing to shift it, leaving the Vets lying three as Nicholson threw his last, two on the button flush with the guard, with a further shot sitting behind in the 12 foot. Nicholson, with few options, played a lovely freeze onto the corner of the top Vets stone, seemingly restricting them to two. His counterpart, however, followed him down with a beautiful takeout which removed both the Edinburgh stone and his own in the back of the house, but saw the shooter stick in the 4 foot to take his three.
Further struggles in the sixth saw Nicholson again facing a fairly open draw against three. This time, though, his shot- his first of the day on the out-turn- was a touch heavy, possibly over-compensating for his earlier light shot. His stone drifted through, gifting the opposition another easy three. Edinburgh never recovered from this and, though the team all played some nice shots in the final ends (a double takeout from Ward, a hit-and-roll from McCrossan and a long tap-up from Edmunds being highlights), they couldn’t force a comeback. Nicholson’s shot-making was poor, as he was forced to go onto his weaker handle (the out-turn) and couldn’t quite find his line; both of his last shots flashed past their targets to give up an easy two in the seventh and take only a single in the eighth.
Edinburgh University can be bitterly disappointed not to have capitalised on their early lead, but may also feel slightly hard done by that their lead was eroded as much by the Vets’ good fortune as by skill. Had Nicholson’s shot in the sixth seen him take a single, reducing the deficit to one, a different outcome might easily have resulted.
As it is, Edinburgh now go into their second-last game against DAFS desperate for a win to ensure that Heriots FP- one point behind- cannot overtake them before they contest their final league game together. That may prove tricky, though- a DAFS win, if results elsewhere go their way, would see them lift the title.