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2019 Men's World Championships
There is a Qualifying Event for these Championships being held in Naseby, New Zealand, from 18 January to 23 January. There are 8 teams entered, including England, who are represented by Andrew Reed (Skip), Michael Opel (Third), Jamie Malton (Second), Tom Jaeggi (Lead) and Gary Tapp (Alternate). This is the same team who gained a very creditable Silver Medal in the B Division of the European Championships in November. On their day they are a match for anyone and are quite capable of earning one of the qualification spots. Good luck to them all as they look to end up as one of the Top 2 teams on 23rd January.

England's first round-robin game is on the 18th against Netherlands, followed on the 19th by Australia and then Poland and Denmark on the 20th. Their other games are against Brazil on the 21st and New Zealand and Korea on the 22nd. The top two teams in the round-robin play each other with the winner qualifying for the full Championships in Lethbridge, Canada at the end of March. The loser then plays against the 3rd placed team to decide the remaining qualifier.
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England's Men have started this competition well, albeit with a couple of extra end wins in a tournament full of high-scoring games. In their first game they eventually defeated Netherlands 9-8 after being 2 up coming into the last end and losing 2 shots. Following that they managed an even worse last end against Australia, losing 3 shots after being 3 up coming into the last end. England scored a single shot in the extra end to win 12-11 in a wildly fluctuating game.

However a prerequisite of a successful team is being able to cope with pressure and England certainly showed that they can do that with extra end wins. It would be better if they could do without the self-inflicted pressure, but two wins out of two is a good start.

[Image: rupd1c.jpg]
England Skip Andrew Reed
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England managed the later stages properly against Poland by scoring single shots in the last 2 ends to win by 7-5. They then showed how to do a really good job by scoring 4 shots in the 7th end against Denmark, leading to a concession, and winning 9-2.

They now sit undefeated after 4 games at the top of the table beside Korea, with Netherlands and New Zealand on 3 wins. The next closest teams are on 1 win, so the 3 combatants for the play-offs should come from these teams. England's final two round robin games against New Zealand and Korea will decide their fate, but it's looking good if they can continue to hold their nerve. One consolation is that Netherlands have both Korea and New Zealand to play on the 22nd as well, so one of these teams is going to be losing at least once, perhaps twice.

Whoever drew the order of play for this tournament has done a tremendous job in maintaining interest right to the last game!
Cabbage is still good for you
As expected England demolished Brazil 12-2 in a one-sided contest that exploded into life after a quiet start. Also as expected Korea and New Zealand had comfortable wins today, but one of the dangers to England, Netherlands, suffered an extra end loss against Poland. I've found a photo on the WCF website featuring play from the England v Brazil game.
[Image: 9vdsup.jpg]

England skip Andrew Reed said: “Considering we went to the Europeans in Estonia with a mindset not to be relegated to the C-Division, this is all a bit surreal. I’m not going to lie, we’re not beautiful, we’re not great, so we’re just sticking in there and doing our best, and here we are at 5-0. This is near enough a fairy-tale, a dream coming true and we’ve still got a lot to play for.”

In tomorrow morning's (NZ time) game which finished a few minutes ago tonight (UK time), England's powers of resistance finally failed after losing the last 3 ends to fall 5-7 to New Zealand.

The loss means that Korea have definitely qualified even though they were beaten by Netherlands, but cannot finish worse than 3rd. The best scenario for England is for them to beat Korea later to qualify on 6 wins. Next best is for New Zealand to beat Netherlands, which would mean that England would still qualify on 5 wins in 3rd place. If Netherlands win against New Zealand and England lose to Korea, then England, New Zealand and Netherlands would all have 5 wins and also have 1 win and 1 loss against the other two. No doubt there will be a magical formula to sort it all out, but I'm not party to such secret information, so we'll have to wait and see.

Come on, England. Take the matter into your own hands.
Cabbage is still good for you
England took the third, more dangerous option to settle their round robin position, but came out on the right side, despite their 6-8 loss to Korea. It was a tight game all the way with the lead changing hands 4 times. England finished with 5 wins alongside Netherlands and New Zealand and managed to end up in 2nd place by virtue of their better Draw Shot Challenge. Thanks to their win over the hosts, Netherlands finished 3rd with New Zealand missing out by the narrowest of margins.

At least England have 2 chances to secure a World Championship slot, firstly against Korea in the 1st v 2nd game and then, if necessary against Netherlands in the loser v 3rd game. They play Korea at 9am (NOW in UK) and the second game is scheduled for 2pm (1am in UK).
Cabbage is still good for you
England didn't have the best of games against Korea, eventually losing 3-7 with 2 ends to go. They lost 3 shots in the 1st end, then held on, but losing a 3 in the 6th end left them far too much to do leading to the concession. However, they still have another chance to qualify in their game against Netherlands in a couple of hours time. Come on England, you know you can do it!
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Sadly England fared no better in their second game against Netherlands, eventually losing 5-8. Again their downfall started by losing 3 shots in the 4th end, compounded by losing the following end, losing 1 shot. Although they responded by scoring a 2 in the 6th end, Netherlands consolidated their winning position by scoring 2 shots in the 7th, immediately followed by 1 in the 8th to leave England with far too much to do in the last 2 ends.

Still, a pretty good performance in the round robin games, finishing second. Unfortunately their form/luck deserted them in the play-off games when it really mattered. England’s skip Andrew Reed, said: “That was a step too far for us. Korea were clinical this morning, and Netherlands were up for it. We tried to compete, but we missed too many shots. It’s a long way to come, but we’ve given it a go. If we hadn’t come here, we’d never know.”

Qualifying teams
Women - China and Finland
Men - Korea and Netherlands
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