HALIFAX -- The reigning Canadian champs eked out a split at the Canadian Curling Trials yesterday, but they certainly did not look pretty doing it.
Manitoba's Jennifer Jones struggled in both games but managed to top Ontario's Jo-Ann Rizzo, widely considered one of the poorest teams here, 6-4 at the Halifax Metro Centre last night.
"I thought we played better," Jones said. "I missed a couple of opportunities for big ends but we hung in there and played better than we did this morning."
Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson had beaten Jones 8-5 in the opener.
"We'll have to get better," Jones admitted. "It's the first day and you're still trying to figure out the ice. Splitting the first day is something that we wanted to do and we achieved that.
"That's what we always try to do -- get better with each game. We got better (last night) and we'll get better (today)."
But dropping to 0-2 could have been devastating.
"It's tough to go 0-2 the first day and we were hoping that wouldn't happen," Jones said. "Lucky for us, it's a win."
In the morning draw, Jones shot a mere 70% while her third, Cathy Overton-Clapham, was a horrendous 63%.
"We never thought we'd go through undefeated," Jones said, "We didn't capitalize on our opportunities. Against this field, any opportunity you get, you had better capitalize."
Jumping to the top of the heap at 2-0 were Ontario's Sherry Middaugh, B.C.'s surprising Kelly Scott and Anderson.
"This is nice because in the past, we've had a tendency to have a slow start," said Middaugh, who blasted Saskatchewan's Jan Betker 11-4. "Especially in a field like this, we knew we had to have a good start. It's still a long week and anything can happen but it's a confidence-builder coming out with a strong start against some good teams."
Betker was simply shell-shocked after dropping to 0-2 and being out-scored 20-6.
"Anybody in our shoes would be dejected," she said. "We're just struggling with everything. I don't know, it's tough. I'm not sure.
"First day doesn't win anybody anything. So it's a long week. We'll just have to string together some wins."
Anderson beat Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton 7-6 in an extra end.
"Bottom line is you want to finish with a 7-2 or 8-1 record at the end of it so certainly it's nicer to start with a win," Anderson said before the game. "It's nice to start well and get our legs underneath us.
"But anything can still happen."
Scott cracked a three in the 10th end to force an extra end, then stole a single to clip Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink 9-8.
"We're a bunch of thieves, apparently," said Scott, who stole the winning point on Nova Scotia's Colleen Jones earlier. "These are good games to win when you show some grittiness, clawing out a win like that."
Matching Jennifer Jones at 1-1 were Colleen Jones, Kleibrink and Lawton while Rizzo and Quebec's Marie-France Larouche join Betker at 0-2.
Jennifer Jones plays Kleibrink today.