Murrayfield Curling, 4th March 2012
With just two games remaining of this competition, Edinburgh University’s task was clear – win the last fixtures and a final position at the bottom of the league would be avoided. Easier said than done, however.
Edinburgh’s opponents for this penultimate game, DAFS, had enjoyed comfortable victories in all of the three previous meetings (12-1, 15-3 and 11-2). While DAFS’ superiority was clear, the students set themselves realistic targets – improve on previous scores by restricting the opposition to under double figures and score more than three. As the line score shows, they achieved both.
Under the cool head of skip Graham Chernoff, the team of Ted Edmunds, Eoin McCrossan and Schuyler Ward began solidly. DAFS won the toss and took their two in the first end. Everything was being played front of house and DAFS utilised their last stone advantage.
The second saw Edinburgh stones buried from early on, following more good build up play, and after many uncharacteristic missed take outs from DAFS, Chernoff was left with the chance to draw for two which, unfortunately, he didn’t take.
Symmetry began to prevail in the score as DAFS again took a two in the third with the hammer after Edinburgh’s back end were unable to remove all the stones they wanted to. DAFS ability to find the house was proving more successful than the University’s. The fourth end again saw Chernoff with a draw attempt for two with the hammer but despite some strong sweeping it came up short.
Into the fifth and a few wobbles from the Edinburgh team were not fully exploited by DAFS – Ward was finding weight a problem but McCrossan made up for this with some useful shots in play. Edmunds then flashed on a takeout despite having previously peeled two guards successfully. Chernoff missed out on a double but the damage limitation he achieved was crucial as DAFS again took a two with their last stone advantage.
The sixth end proved to be a turning point as the students started to reduce the deficit. One shot in particular, however, could have cost the team dear had it not been for Chernoff’s great split for two with the hammer: two DAFS guards sat right next to each other just in front of the house and Edmunds was called to peel them away. It looked fairly routine – any sort of contact on either inside edge and they were both gone. Disbelief followed, however, as Edmunds’ shooter somehow found the space between the two stones and sailed through the house. An unwelcome trick shot from Edinburgh’s third player.
The students carried this improvement over to the penultimate end where more good build up play from the front end began to frustrate DAFS and sloppiness entered their game. Edmunds protected what Edinburgh already had with a great guard – further foxing the DAFS players who now began to criticise each other’s weight and calls as shots kept sailing through. When a succession of draws had been played and the end was over, Edinburgh had stolen a single to move within a point of DAFS. Delaying tactics from DAFS were evident as the thirds agreed on score – it was evidently a single, Edmunds was not going to be bullied by a measure and his DAFS counterpart eventually agreed on the score.
Whatever happened now, the students would be pleased with their performance having scored more against DAFS than any team had managed before and still being in the hunt in the final end. DAFS pulled out their best shots in this end and it all came down to the final stones. With a congested centre of sheet, Chernoff played an audacious angled raise which came off perfectly, promoting Edinburgh to shot stone. DAFS, however, could just see enough of it and their skip played an equally excellent shot through a funnel of stones to remove it and lie three.
A relieved DAFS team reflected that Edinburgh had come back very strongly and had run them close. Given previous results against this team, this was a significant improvement against the players who have all but won this season’s competition. Edinburgh’s final game is against the team directly beneath them, Heriots FP, in a game which will ultimately decide who finishes at the bottom of the league – a position Edinburgh will be keen to avoid having been there at the end of last season.