Murrayfield Curling, 27th November 2011
Edinburgh University do not traditionally enjoy fixtures against the reigning Linlithgow League champions, Penicuik. Games in the past have resulted in heavy defeats (2-14, 2-13) against a team who have won this competition many times in recent history.
While the most recent outing against these tough opponents ended in defeat once again, all the players can be proud of a great effort in a game that began tight and tense. As in the past, however, Edinburgh’s inability to see out games and hold onto leading positions let the team down. Winning the same number of ends as your opponents is fine when your opponents score big in theirs, however, it is frustrating.
Maybe it was the final of the Edinburgh International being played on Sheet 4 that spurred the team on to an impressive start. The sheer brilliance (and noise) coming from Teams Brewster and Reid contributed to a great atmosphere.
The team for the day saw David Jenkins at skip – adding another appearance to his impressive tally. Graham Chernoff, usually a back-end player, was called in at second while Ted Edmunds played third after his debut at skip in his previous, tough game against Vets CC. Joachim Vesely, who has only been curling for a few months, played lead in his first competitive fixture and he began the game solidly.
The opening end saw a lot of striking after dbutante Vesely had played his first stones well in what began as a very open affair. Edmunds made up for a miss by successfully taking out a Penicuik counter, leaving skip Jenkins the chance to capitalise with the hammer. Some well-placed shots later, and the University had two points. The second end was tight again and culminated with Jenkins- who was ever so slightly off with his draws- restricting Penicuik to just the one point.
Penicuik came back more aggressively in the third. Edmunds- usually solid with strikes- missed twice but his skip made up for it by blanking the end and retaining the last stone advantage. To be ahead against Penicuik after three ends was no mean feat but, sadly, it was not to last. The fourth end was dominated by Penicuik who started to show what they are capable of. Despite Edinburghs best efforts they stole a three which swung the momentum back in their favour.
Still very much in the match, the University began the fifth well with Edmunds playing a great split to bury Edinburghs counters behind Chernoff and Veselys well-placed stones. Unfortunately, the team were only to count one as Jenkins’ final stones were slightly misjudged. Uncharacteristically for the University’s matches, the sixth end saw another blank after Chernoff had successfully cleared out a busy house. Two very wide corner guards of different colours were all that remained after this unusual end.
Going into the seventh just a point behind Penicuik should have given Edinburgh a huge confidence boost but the team started to let their heads drop. Vesely struggled with weight after his good early play and Penicuik continued to bury their stones. A great draw from Jenkins looked to have saved the end, but Penicuik tapped up perfectly to leave them lying four.
Knowing the game was beyond them, the students played the final end albeit without much enthusiasm. Good work from Penicuik left Edinburgh again facing several counters and a double-figure defeat that would, arguably, not have reflected upon their solid play. As it was, Jenkins was left to play the final stone of the match facing a similar house to the previous end. It was up to the skip to restrict Penicuik as much as possible and to keep the scoreline respectable. Despite the game having been lost and Jenkins’ clear frustration at earlier lapses he played a sublime draw to the button that not only restricted the opposition but that also gave Edinburgh their final point of the match to leave the final score at 8-4 to Penicuik.
This match showed that the team has grown in both confidence and ability since their tentative first outings in this competition over a year ago. Even facing defeat, the team can find praise for each other and acknowledge good decision making that comes from a noticeable improvement in both communication and etiquette. Edinburgh University no longer needs to fear teams the way they perhaps once did and if an effort can be made to sustain concentration and to build on good early play then there is no reason why the team cannot continue its upward trajectory.