Britain's men lost their third game in curling's round-robin yesterday, going down 6-7 to Norway, a result that places them in real danger of not reaching the semi-final stage.
A win against China this afternoon would ensure their continued involvement, but whether that would be in a tie-breaker or through a direct route to the last four depends on results elsewhere, in particular what Norway do against Denmark. Even if they lose to China, they could still go to a tie-break if Denmark beat Norway.
In yesterday morning's game, Britain blanked the first end and then took the early lead with two points through a nice tap-back by skip David Murdoch. Norway levelled in the third and then, after good set-up play by Britain, Norway's Thomas Ulsrud played a good draw that destroyed the possibility of a multiple score by Britain, who had to settle for just one from the end.
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In the fifth, Murdoch only removed one Norwegian stone with his promote attempt, leaving Ulsrud with an easy draw for two and a 4-3 lead. The British team got back to level terms after two points from a well-played ninth end. However, they could not get anything going in the tenth and Norway used last-stone advantage to score one for the 7-6 win that kept their hopes alive.
"It seems I'm always leaving it to the hardest way possible at the Olympics," Murdoch said. "But it's still in our own hands, we can't let that defeat us too much. It would have been nice to get that win today and secure that play-off but you just have to move on - that's curling.
"We had a couple of bad ones [pick-ups] out there. We had him on the ropes a few times and we never really took our chances - we could have been a little bit more clinical. To be honest I fancy our chances, [today]. We know [China] are playing well, but so are we and we've lost a couple of games by inches."
After a day off yesterday, Eve Muirhead's women play twice today, against Russia in the morning and then Denmark in the last session of round-robin play. Like the men, they are close to qualification and will make sure of a semi-final place with two wins, while one win would at least guarantee a tie-breaker place.