Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No jitters for worlds rookie

Jacobs beats China 7-6; home crowd a thrill

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VICTORIA -- Brad Jacobs didn't show any jitters in his first appearance at the world men's curling championships.

The Canadian skip opened the tournament Saturday with a 7-6 victory over Rui Liu of China.

The win was much more convincing than the score indicated. Jacobs built up a 7-2 lead while curling at a 96 per cent success rate.

"I thought we would be a little more nervous than we were, because we never played in the worlds before, and everyone's there, and all eyes on us cheering for us," said Jacobs.

"It was wild, but we weren't nervous. But because we weren't nervous, it allowed us to come out and play our game. It was awesome all around."

Jacobs is attempting to give Canada a fourth consecutive title. The 27-year-old Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native is the youngest Canadian skip to compete for a world championship since Edmonton's Kevin Martin at the age of 24 in 1991.

"It was definitely everything I hoped it would be," said Jacobs. "We were on sheet A and the whole side of sheet A was pretty much packed (with fans.) When we walked out before the game, the fans cheered. And every shot, they were cheering us throughout the game.

"Even though you're into the game, you still hear what people say. You still hear what they yell at you, and it's nice to have those words of encouragement."

But he and his rink, which includes the front-end brother tandem of E.J. Harnden and Ryan Harnden and third Ryan Fry, did not need much.

The game was decided after Jacobs stole one point in both the fourth and fifth ends and scored three more in the seventh to take the commanding 7-2 lead.

Liu scored two in the eighth, and stole one more in the ninth as Jacobs missed a takeout attempt. But Jacobs effectively ran Liu out of rocks in the 10th end, thanks to a key double takeout by E.J. Harnden, while giving China a meaningless steal of one.

"Even in the ninth end, (when) we missed that double (takeout) on my last one, we knew we were in control that whole game," said Jacobs.

It was Jacobs' lone game of the day. He will take on Finland (0-1) and Scotland (opening-draw bye) today.

"We're going to have to come out and do exactly what we did against China -- come out firing and try to get a (read on) the ice as quick as we possibly can."

In the opening end, Jacobs hit and rolled behind cover in the 12-foot ring with his second shot, forcing Liu to draw to the button to score one with the hammer.

But Jacobs showed his draw skills in the second end. With Jacobs lying two, Liu took out the Canadian skip's shot stone and rolled behind a logjam of rocks.

But another Jacobs stone was shot rock and he deftly drew to the button to score two and take a 2-1 lead.

"We had a very good chance in the second to lay three, force (Jacobs) to one, and he ended up getting two," said China co-coach Lorne Hamblin, a Morris, Man., native.

"But the Canadians put on a clinic. I was really pleased to see the guys come back and make him throw his last shot, because that's what you want to do."

Liu had a chance to score one in the third. But rather than tie the game, he chose to blank and keep the hammer.

However, Liu could not take advantage of last shot in the fourth end. With his final throw, Jacobs busted up a logjam of stones, leaving three Canadian shot rocks. Liu took out the one that mattered most, but his shooter rolled too far, enabling Jacobs to steal one and take a 3-1 lead.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2013 B7

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