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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 23:39 GMT

GB curlers reach semi-final

By BBC Sport Online's Mike Haggerty in Salt Lake City

Britain's women curlers will meet favourites Canada in the Winter Olympics semi-final after securing two dramatic wins.

Skip Rhona Martin survived her second sudden-death tie-breaker of the day to beat Germany 9-5.

Earlier, the British women had beaten Sweden 6-4.

They came back onto the ice two hours later for yet another showdown, this time with Germany, who had beaten them in their final round-robin game.

Martin had last stone advantage in the first end, and chose to blank it - a mirror of the Swedish game - but the tactic backfired when Germany stole a single in the second.

Martin's last stone into the house could not make enough impact on a collection of stones lying around the four-foot ring.

The British girls finally got onto the scoreboard with a single in the third.

And in the fourth end, Britain were unlucky when Martin's attempted double take-out across the width of the house just failed, giving Germany a two and a 3-1 lead.

Britain looked to be in trouble in the fifth when all that Martin could do was hit for one shot, giving Germany a half-time 3-2 lead.

However, Britain's big break-through came in the sixth end.

Martin's team built up three shots around the button and, instead of nestling into them to score one, German skip Natalie Nessler was too strong with her last shot.

It hit one of the British counters on the wrong side to roll out and give Britain a game-turning steal of three.

After this, Britain dominated and took another single steal in the seventh end when a German tap-up was just too strong and rolled inches too far across the four-foot ring. This gave Britain a 6-3 lead.

Martin in disbelief

Germany came back into the game with a hit for two in the eighth.

But in the ninth, Nessler had a complete miss with her last shot, leaving Martin an open draw into the house for three, when Germany immediately conceded.

Afterwards, a delighted Martin, who was within one round-robin win of a direct semi-final place, said: "If there's a hard way to do it, we'll go there.

"We had two really good games and we knew if we dug in we could get there."

Speaking about the game's turning point in the sixth end, Martin added: "She took too much ice and missed but we'll take that, thanks very much."

Asked how she felt about making the semi-finals she said: "I don't think it's sunk in yet.

"It's going to be hard, but we want to go on and we want to play well against Canada, because in the round-robin game we didn't play well against them."

Switzerland face the USA in the other women's semi-final, with the winners playing for gold and the losers going into a bronze medal play-off.


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