Asham Under 21 Slam Inverness
The 33rd Inverness Junior Curling International was played to a successful conclusion at Inverness Ice Centre over the weekend. The competition, part of the Asham Under 21 Slam and sponsored locally by ARK Estates, had attracted a strong field.
In the girls event Sarah Wood’s rink were the only undefeated side in the round robin finishing with three wins and a peel. Two time winner and current holder Katie Murray’s RCCC Academy rink which included local curler Ellie Fraser suffered an opening 10-2 reverse to Wood’s rink, however despite never appearing to really hit their straps the squad had the talent and fortitude to post three wins in their remaining games to qualify. Rebecca Morrison suffered two narrow losses but did enough to qualify along with Forres curlers Amy MacDonald and young Marran Nicol playing in a rink skipped by Leslie Young.
The draw for the semi’s matched Wood against MacDonald and Murray against Morrison with both matches going against the previous form. Wood was tied 4-4 with MacDonald after four but steals of three and one in ends six and seven sealed the deal for MacDonald and handshakes were offered.
The Murray v Morrison clash was an entirely different affair with ends exchanged throughout. Morrison’s deuce in the second was the only multiple count and ensured she had last stone advantage coming home peels in the tenth. Despite Murray’s best efforts she was unable to manufacture the steal and the holders were out.
The MacDonald rink got off to a slow start in the final, the loss of two against the head in the second following multiple misses leaving them a mountain to climb against a firing Morrison rink. However they hung in and posted a deuce in seven to trail 4-3, forced a single then squared the game with a deuce in nine.
MacDonald and Co.’s front end set up cover and with three stones to go Morrison faced a shot largely hidden in the four foot with a counter of her own on the wing. She played a high quality running tap back to roll a second to the wing and asked the question of Young. Young got the weight on her draw but not the line and her stone lay shot but exposed and Morrison calmly made the hit for three for a slightly unreflective 8-5 score line and the title.
Grant Barr topped Section A with a perfect 4-0 record. Kerr Sands, Ross Whyte and the Ross McIntyre rink led for the weekend by Robin McCall made the quarters.
Section B looked the stronger on paper. 2012 winner Robin Brydone’s RCCC Academy rink topped the group dropping a solitary point to the local rink skipped by Ryan Peters. Fellow Academy stable mate Cameron Bryce looked the other quality team in the section dropping only a tight game to Brydone. The James Carswell team also looked contenders and qualified for the quarters along with Callum MacLean.
In the quarters Brydone had a comfortable win against Sands, Barr did enough to defend an early lead against MacLean and Carswell looked the stronger and eventually closed out his win over Sands. The final quarter between Bryce and Whyte was the tie of the round with Bryce being forced to an extra and using his last stone advantage to go through.
The semi finals were a contrast. Carswell conceded a couple of triples and steal of two to Grant Barr and shook after six. The RCCC Academy shoot-out between Brydone and Bryce was the game of the tournament with quality shot-making throughout. Both teams exploited opportunities in the early ends and the scores were tied 8-8 after eight. Brydone forced Bryce to his single in nine but couldn’t manufacture a deuce to win and the game went to an extra. Again Team Bryce held their nerve and made last stone advantage count.
Bryce again exploited his last stone advantage in the opening end of the final, clinically finishing off excellent early play from his rink to post a triple. A steal in three and a deuce in five saw him lead 6-1 at the halfway stage. Barr manufactured a deuce in eight but shook after Bryce posted a single in nine for an 8-4 win and the trophy.
A successful weekend with the ten end format meeting universal approval and the top teams emphasising their credentials for the forthcoming junior championships.
Winners – Rebecca Morrison; Amy Bryce; Leanne McKenzie; Becca Baird
Runners Up:- Lesley Young; Amy MacDonald; Katherine Spain; Marran Nicol
3rd Place:- Katie Murray; Sophie Jackson; Hailey Duff; Ellie Fraser
4th Place:- Sarah Wood; Elspeth Lean; Mili Smith; Ellen Boomer
Winners – Cameron Bryce; Zack Stewart; Fraser Kingan; Frazer Shaw
Runners Up:- Grant Barr; Robert Fawns; Fraser Thomson; Neil Sutherland
3rd Place:- Robin Brydone; David Baird; Callum Greenwood; Thomas Halder
4th Place:- James Carswell; George McConnell; Ben Bremner; Mark Taylor
Report by Neil Gallacher
Pictured top right: Winners – Becca Baird, Leeanne MacKenzie, Amy Bryce, Rebecca Morrison
Pictured second from top left: Runners Up -Lesley Young, Amy MacDonald, Katherine Spain, Marran Nicol
Pictured second from bottom right: Winners – Fraser Shaw, Cameron Bryce, Zak Stewart, Frazer Kingan
Pictured bottom left: Runners up – Neil Sutherland, Fraser Thomson, Robert Fawns, Grant Barr
Photos: Tom Brydone