NATIONAL CHAMPS TEAM FLEMING HEADING FOR WORLD CHAMPS

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National Champions Team Fleming beat Olympians Team Muirhead 9-7 in their second World Play-off match to secure their place at the forthcoming World Championships later this month (17-25 March).

Skip Hannah Fleming said immediately after her second victory in a row – having won their first match 9-6 - that her team felt like they ‘were on top of the world’ and were delighted at the prospect of heading to their first World Championships.

Fleming’s rink got off to a strong start again having secured a three in the first and a two in the third and went on to carry a 7-3 lead into the fifth end break. Team Muirhead rallied hard to try to reduce the deficit but were kept to a single at the sixth before claiming a single steal in the seventh. At the eighth end it looked as though Muirhead’s quartet were changing the momentum of the game and had three stones lying, forcing skip Hannah Fleming to claim a single. However despite a two at the penultimate end for the European Champions, Team Muirhead were still chasing the Scottish Champs 8-7 and Fleming held her nerve to claim a single for the victory over long term domestic rivals.

Skip Hannah Fleming said: “Thankfully we held our nerve right to the end and we needed to because they were coming back at us pretty hard, but we knew if we kept playing the way we had we’d be there.

“It’s 100 per cent a big moment, to be able to have the chance to play them in order to go to the World Championships and win in two games is the highlight of our careers so far without a doubt.

“It is a stepping stone, but if we can continue playing the way we have this weekend of course a medal is what we’ll be going for, but we just need to prepare in the right way and put ourselves in the best positions when we get out there.”

Commenting on her team’s progression and the decision to re-shuffle the line up comprising Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright and Alice Spence, Fleming added:

“Without a doubt we’ve reached a new level this year. When we put this team together two years ago we knew we had the potential to do well and we showed that by pushing our way up the world rankings within the first season and we held onto that this season too. It’s all coming together at the right time.

“We realised that we weren’t playing to our full advantage so the re-shuffle has given us a bit of a step up again. It was definitely a wise move to put Vicky at the head and Jen’s the best sweeper in the British Curling programme so we wanted to emphasise that to get her sweeping everything and she showed that at the eighth end.

“We’ve never been properly given the credit we thought we were due, but it was always up to us to prove ourselves and in the past we hadn’t done that. We were always pipped at the post by Eve and that was our sixth Scottish final that we managed to win a couple of weeks ago, so it’s been a long time coming.

"Although we would have liked to go as Scottish champions to the Worlds at the same time I keep saying it’s been great to play Eve to get there as well because if we’d just won the Scottish without having to get past Eve it wouldn’t have felt like we’d earned it as much. So to have this play-off and come through as winners is brilliant.”

A disappointed Eve Muirhead commended Team Fleming on their achievement this weekend.

“Team Fleming were the deserving winners this weekend, they played some great curling, but all we can do is come back stronger after the last month.

Commenting on competing in the World Play-offs for a chance to go to the World Championships, she added: “One hundred per cent I think you’ve got to have the chance to represent your country and having won the Scottish Championships six or seven times it’s hard not to get the chance to go to the Worlds, so I’m glad we got that, but Hannah’s team outplayed us the whole weekend, so they deserve the ticket on the flight.”

Team Mouat and Team Smith now play in their best of three decider this evening to determine which mens team will head to Las Vegas for their World Championships. The match will be shown live on BBC Sport website:

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