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Muirhead shows nerves of steel in last-gasp win

By Mark Staniforth

Sixteen years after Rhona Martin sunk her 'Stone of Destiny' to seal Olympic glory, Great Britain curling ace Eve Muirhead produced her own last-stone heroics to keep her Pyeongchang dream alive.

Muirhead went into the final end against Switzerland trailing 7-6 in a game GB needed to win to realistically maintain their challenge for a semi-final place.

And needing two to avoid handing the hammer in an extra end to the Swiss - also the opponents on GB curling's greatest day when Martin's team won gold in Salt Lake City - Muirhead held her nerve to clip out an opposing stone in a busy house and seal an 8-7 victory.

Muirhead said: "I could see about an inch of that stone but they're shots I practice every day, and I know you can make them nine times out of 10 in practice, but you've got to make it on the big stage."

Victory for Muirhead's side was potentially crucial given their pre-match 3-3 record which puts them in the middle of the pack with their last two games against a strong Japan then resurgent favourites Canada.

A record of five wins from nine is generally seen as good enough to grant at least a play-off for a last-four place, but Muirhead will leave nothing to chance when her team return to the ice against the Japanese today.

Muirhead said: "Japan is going to be a really tough game - we can't take anything for granted.

"We know what our job is now, we've got to get a couple more wins so we have to keep on playing well and generating those chances for ourselves."

GB's men found themselves in an almost identical situation, a 7-6 win over Denmark in the afternoon session boosting their record to 4-3 and also giving them a shot at the last four.

Holding the hammer but trailing by one heading into the last end, Kyle Smith capitalised on a Danish mistake to take the two points he needed to avoid his opponents taking the advantage into the extra end.

Thomas Muirhead, the younger brother of Eve, said: "When you are playing and aren't firing, but you are still winning, that's a great boost for confidence. We've still got notches to go up."

They must ignore their next opponents' sartorial flamboyance and continue to cut their own cloth. Another win over Norway today would boost their hopes of securing a semi-final slot.

Thomas Ulsrud's team of former world champions are as famous for their outrageously coloured trousers as they are for their curling prowess.

Smith said: "Norway have had those trousers for as long as I remember, and if they bring a bit of colour to the Games, that's great."

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