Curling: Eve Muirhead and David Murdoch's rinks clinch World Championship slots

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland at Dewars Centre, Perth
Eve Muirhead
Eve Muirhead and her rink will now represent Great Britain at the World Championship in Beijing from 18-26 March

Eve Muirhead's rink successfully defended their Scottish National Championship with a 6-4 victory over Hannah Fleming's team in Perth.

The title is their third in a row and ensures a place at next month's World Championship in Beijing.

In the men's final, David Murdoch's rink enjoyed a dominant 10-4 triumph over the young rink led by Bruce Mouat.

Murdoch's rink will go on to take their place at the World Championship in Edmonton this April.

In the first of Saturday's finals at Dewars Centre, Fleming's rink failed to fully recover from trailing in a tight opening spell.

Three points in the fifth end put Muirhead in charge and, though Fleming then cut the gap, two points in the eighth ensured Muirhead was victorious.

Muirhead, whose maiden victory came in 2009, was thrilled to win her seventh title.

"It feels as good as every other one," Muirhead told BBC Scotland. "Every year it seems to be getting tougher and tougher, which is great.

"We played well all week to get that title. We knew we had to play well and we brought our A-game when it counted.

"It is hard to keep on top. Every year, every competition, we've got people biting at our heels. We've got a big target on our back. We keep working very hard and never get complacent."

It was a first title for Lauren Gray who joined Team Muirhead last year.

David Murdoch
David Murdoch's rink are not only aiming for success at the World Championship in April, but at the 2018 Winter Olympics

"I feel absolutely delighted," she said.

"Everyone in Scotland is battling it out for a few years until they get that first championship. I've been on the wrong side of the coin a few times."

Anna Sloan believes the team are well prepared for a tilt at the World Championship title.

"We been playing well so we just need to build on that," she said.

"Our team performance has been consistent and solid. It's tough opposition out there but we're feeling in a good place right now. We're up for that challenge."

Vicki Adams cited the influence of coach Glenn Howard who took charge last year.

"Glenn obviously has a lot of experience in Canada," she said. "That's good for us as he can bring new ideas to the table and see how we can progress our game a little bit further."

Experience counts for Murdoch

Murdoch's rink, comprising the skip, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow, came out firing in the men's final and established a two-point lead in the first end, narrowly missing an opportunity to score what would have been a crushing seven.

Mouat responded with a solid two-point second leg but in the next end Murdoch scored four to establish what proved to be an unassailable lead.

The young Mouat rink, current World Junior champions and on a great run of form coming into the final, battled hardily to stay in it but the concession of a further three points in the fifth end essentially ended the contest.

For Mouat, they can console themselves with a fantastic performance in this championship with a bright future seemingly ahead.

"We really pushed ourselves at the end of this year and just delighted we played well," said Murdoch.

"It's such an important year. We have to qualify Team GB for the Olympics so how we do that week (at the World Championship) will determine that.

"If we do well we might be able to punch our ticket to go as Team GB to Korea in 2018. There's a lot at stake.

"The year before the Olympics, the World Championship is always the toughest event. It's when teams are peaking leading up to the end of the four-year cycle.

"We're going to face so many good teams from around the world. The World Championship is so tough these days.

"We'll have a go at finishing way up the table. We know we're capable of it. We're Olympic silver medallists, so we know we can deliver on the day."

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