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'As hard as the last shot was, we had to go for it'

They may not have been ahead at any stage in the entire contest but, with his last stone of the final end, David Murdoch made sure his side took the lead when it counted.

David Murdoch watches the final stone which clinched victory over Norway in their tie-breaker for a semi-final place at the Ice Cube Centre. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
David Murdoch watches the final stone which clinched victory over Norway in their tie-breaker for a semi-final place at the Ice Cube Centre. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

He produced a spectacular raised double take-out - "that'll go up there as one of my best shots" - to ensure that Britain scored the 2 they needed to seal a 6-5 win against Norway in yesterday's play-off tie. The victory earned them a semi-final showdown against the world champions Sweden this evening.

"That was incredible," admitted an elated Murdoch. "Basically we had the goal to get to the semi-final and we're there. The guys played absolutely fantastic. The standard of that game was just incredible: you miss one shot and you practically lose the game out there."

Of his decision to go for the difficult take-out rather than draw for a single to tie the game and put it into an extra end, he said: "We've played those guys a hundred times and your chances of stealing an extra are quite slim. It's very rare you get a steal against those guys. As hard as the shot was, we had to go for it. There was no margin for error."

Asked at what stage he knew his shot had been successful, he said: "I was saying nothing until it hit. There were too many angles to trust we were going to make everything. We had to rely on the throw, rely on the sweeping, and having called it right, we got everything right; it was a fantastic team effort.

"It's not often you get that oppor­tunity; you just have to go for it. It's part of the game; you just have to trust everything you've done previously, all your practice shots and how you've been playing all week. We had the courage to go for it."

Soren Gran, the Great Britain coach who was called in for a timeout before the decision to attempt the double was made, also spoke about the 10th end decision-making. "We all agreed to go for the shot with the best chance to win the game. He [Murdoch] looked at me and gave me a smile, so I knew he liked to play the shot and that was the most important thing: to see that smile and the fighting spirit."

Thomas Ulsrud, the Norway skip, was gracious in defeat, agreeing that Murdoch had made the right call. "As soon as we played our last rock, I said 'that's on'. If you think about what's on the line it was a really good shot. If you miss it, you're out, if you make it you're in the semi-finals of the Olympics. All credit to him, that's the kind of player he is. That's why he plays skip for Great Britain; he doesn't crack under pressure."

Norway had last-stone advantage in the first end and used it to score a single. The teams then swapped singles for the next three ends as the score moved to 2-2 but Norway made the first significant move in the fifth when Ulsrud hit and stayed with his last stone to score 2 and take a 4-2 lead into the half-time break.

Trying to get back on terms, Britain blanked the next two ends when big scores became impossible and they finally drew level again in the eighth end, scoring 2 points for 4-4 when Ulsrud's attempted double takeout just missed a British stone at the back of the house, leaving Murdoch a straightforward draw into the house for his points.

When he came to play his last stone in the ninth end, Ulsrud was facing three British stones spread around the house and this situation forced him into a draw shot to score just 1 point and regain the lead at 5-4.

The situation was the same in reverse, with Murdoch facing a collection of Norwegian stones in the house. This time the angles of the stones was tempting. Murdoch took a deep breath and played his spectacular winner. Not only did he take out two Norwegian stones, he managed to keep his own stone in the house as well as another one already there.

When asked about how hard his skip's final shot had been, Greg Drummond, the rink's third player, reckoned: "You'd make that one out of 50 times."

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