Murrayfield Curling, 20th November 2011
Four Edinburgh University curlers walk into a bar, and promptly get a round bought for them.
This somewhat cruel joke that had been circulating round the clubs membership unfortunately had an element of truth behind it, so long was it since the club had won a game. One had to look back to two seasons previously to find the last win not attributable to penalty points or forfeit. Sundays match looked to be a good opportunity to break this cycle. The opposition, Heriots FP, entered the game propping up the table with just two points, but would have been replaced there by Edinburgh University unless the students could at least gain a draw.
Following a poor performance in his previous game, Michael Nicholson dropped down from skip to third, replaced in the head by the experienced David Jenkins. Schuyler Ward and Rory Williams, each playing their second game for the club, revived their front end partnership from three games previously, swapping their positions from that fixture with Ward at second and Williams leading off.
Despite losing the toss, and thereby the hammer, Edinburgh stole a point in the first end. Some impressive takeouts- including a double- from Nicholson in the second opened up that rather congested end. When the Heriots FP skips last draw drifted a little too far, the measure was called for; despite seeming like a solitary point for Edinburgh, they lay second shot by the narrowest of margins and pulled into a three point lead.
Heriots FP clawed two back in the third, but were unable to build momentum. Jenkins- with the hammer for the first time in the match- faced losing four, but a cool-headed draw into the house, normally his Achilles heel, pinched a single for Edinburgh.
Edinburghs good form drifted a little in the fifth end, with Ward and Williams losing their weight and putting pressure on the back end. However, their strong sweeping helped Jenkins to salvage a further steal of one as Edinburgh continued to march on. In the sixth, it was Nicholson who put pressure on his skip. While his hitting in the first few ends had been imperious (five out of six made), he missed two easy strikes here to give Heriots the upper hand. Again, Jenkins stepped in with an exact draw and nicked a further single when the Heriots FP skips takeout drifted inches wide.
Edinburgh nearly let Heriots FP back into the game in the seventh, Ward and Williams coming off Jenkinss first stone a fraction early and allowing it to wreck on the short opposition guard. Heriots skip drew in to lie four but, with his counterpart recovering with a precision draw to lie shot, was forced to take a single. Edinburgh kept the next end open (aside from one lovely guard played by Nicholson) and had already counted Heriots FP out of the game by the time Jenkins stepped up to take one last point for the team.
While Edinburgh will no doubt welcome the league points from this game- which took them three clear of the bottom of the table- the morale boost of finally winning will surely be more precious to them. The question is, can they convert this into further success both in this league and the Scottish Universities league? Only time will tell.