Murrayfield Curling, 25th September 2011
Edinburgh University were not expected to take much from this opening Linlithgow League match against the reigning champions, but with the benefit of the hammer in the first end looked to have the potential to produce a scare. Â Some fine defensive play from front end Kelly Jamieson and David McHale- Â making his competitive debut for the club – made their opponents work hard to lie shot, before skip Katie McGaan’s final stone removed the lying Penicuik shot and stuck to give Edinburgh the lead.
The solid start was soon undone though, with the inexperienced Edinburgh side failing to contain their more aggressively able opponents. Â Two errant shots from third Fraser Stockton left Edinburgh with a mountain to climb in the second end, one which proved insurmountable with McGaan struggling to find draw weight, and Penicuik took a one point lead, which they capitalised on with a further two in the third end.
A poor-quality fourth end from Edinburgh saw their opponents stones stacking up in the house and by the time McGaan stepped into the hack to play her second, she was facing six, with no Edinburgh counters in the house to work with. Â For McGaan, the moment would surely have evoked memories of April’s Scottish Universities Open where she found herself at risk of conceding an eight-ender. Â As on that occasion, she contained the damage, but there was only so much that the skip could do. Â A solid draw squeezed through the Penicuik stones but a further two points were yielded.
Despite retaining the hammer for much of the game, Edinburgh simply couldn’t make good use of it, regardless of the technique they showed. Â A top-end takeout from McGaan with her first in the fifth deserved more, but the Penicuik reply was a strong takeout of their own which stripped Edinburgh of their options and forced them to drop another three points, quickly followed by a further two in the sixth following two heavy draws from Stockton.
With their slim chance of a victory gone, Edinburgh raised their shot-making substantially in the seventh. Â Good build-up play by Jamieson and McHale was followed by a superb takeout from Stockton. Â A strong response from the Penicuik skip left McGaan facing the prospect of a heavy end against her, and she was unlucky to limit the damage to two after her shooter rolled wide following a takeout. Â A similar shot in the final end was more successful and rewarded Edinburgh’s resilience with a second point.
Edinburgh were never likely to take much from this match; while Penicuik were last year’s champions, Edinburgh were the other book-end, failing to win a match and finishing with a heavy shots against total. Â The difference in skill, but especially experience between the young Edinburgh students and the majority of teams in this league is clear and the need for improvement is evident. Â Penicuik- and most of Edinburgh’s other rivals in this competition- clearly benefit from years of playing together, and it remains to be seen whether such strong teamwork can be overcome by a club whose membership is necessarily transient.