HARD fought wins over the Netherlands and, after an extra end, hosts Switzerland took Scotland’s defending champions into the knockout stages of the LGT World Men’s Curling Championships on the sixth day of action.

“Those were two really big games to qualify us for the play-offs, which is huge,” said skip Bruce Mouat. “We’re very excited to see where we end up in the round-robin now and hopefully somehow qualify for the semis, although I’m not sure if that’s likely.”

Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan had gone into the day knowing victories in both games would be enough to ensure the required top-six finish that ensured play-off involvement and they went into the first as firm favourites against the Dutch.

The National: Scottish skip Bruce Mouat

Their failure to win the draw shot contest and last stone advantage meant they had to work for their win and they went into the midway break 2-1 down. On the resumption a three at the sixth end put them in control, however and they managed the game well from that point running out 6-3 winners, to set up a crucial meeting with the Swiss who had suffered a damaging defeat to Italy earlier.

The Scots made an ideal start, this time winning the draw shot so having that last stone at the first where they capitalised on mistakes by their opp-onents to score a three. That was a useful advantage, but with the ice having been tricky in the Schaffhausen arena, they were unable to use it to take control as they might normally expect to.

Conditions did not prevent either team from making a string of superb shots and with the home crowd behind them the confidence of the Swiss grew visibly as they narrowed the gap with a two at the fourth end, then registered a three at the sixth to move into a lead.

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A blanked seventh end then seemed to favour the Scots, but Mouat was subsequently forced into making an extraordinary draw through the narrowest of ports, which rubbed the Swiss shot stone on the way to out-counting it, to keep his team in the match by levelling things at the eighth end.

It remained tight as the Scots stole at the ninth to move back in front, while their opponents were again unable to make last stone advantage count, scoring just one to take the match into extra time.

Scotland set that end up well, but it was still a nervy finish and while the last Swiss stone did not finish exactly where it was intended, Mouat still had to be precise in hitting it on to another Swiss stone that was sitting closest to the pin, but nervelessly got the job done.

“It was tough going,” Mouat admitted. “We got the jump in the early ends, but then started to struggle a wee bit with the ice which was getting frosty again, so it was difficult to keep on top of all the paths out there.

“The draw in eight was pretty important just to keep ourselves in the game. We’d had a pretty tough middle section of the game, so that was a bit of a turning point, making that draw to put the pressure back on the Swiss boys.

“Those kind of games are always pretty tough when we’re both fighting to qualify for the play-offs and not only that, but position.

“Winning that game is pretty good for us in terms of our chances of having the hammer in the play-offs which has been quite important this week.”

Following unbeaten Sweden’s defeat of Canada in the same round of matches, those two now look likely to finish in the top two spots since the second-placed Canadians have a superior record to third-placed Scotland and won their head-to-head which would be the first tie-breaker should they finish with identical records.