LONDON, Ont. -- The Battle of the Buffalo Gals seemed to drip with the same kind of intensity one would feel in a final.
And Team Canada's Jennifer Jones emerged the victor despite playing one of her poorest games ever. Jones cracked a deuce in the 10th end to escape with an 8-7 win over Manitoba's Janet Harvey in their opening match of the Scott Tournament of Hearts before 4,533 witnesses at the John Labatt Centre last night.
"You have a provincial rivalry and obviously, both teams wanted to win the game, and we were fortunate to pull it off," Canada third Cathy Overton-Clapham said of the Manitoba-versus-Manitoba drama on the pebble.
Overton-Clapham made a split to sit two behind cover to set up the winning deuce in the 10th.
"Oh, we always play hard against each other, no doubt about that," Harvey said, playing down the rivalry. "We'll be playing the same way (today). That's how we play and that's how they play as well.
"It doesn't really matter to us, you guys (media) are the ones making the big deal about us playing them. We're playing against eight rocks and they just happened to be throwing them."
Harvey had stolen two in the fifth end when Jones flashed a hit to take a 5-2 lead. After the fifth-end break, Jones switched rocks with lead Georgina Wheatcroft and promptly cracked a three to tie the game in the sixth.
"We didn't make our shots," lamented Harvey, who shot 71%. "We get the jump on them, then let them back in. We didn't play sharp that end and that's what happens. Threes are easy when you miss."
But it was Jones who had been missing during the first five ends.
"It was probably the worst game that I've played in a very long time but my team played great," said Jones, who shot only 63%. "Cathy had just an outstanding game and my team really hung in there with me."
Jones said she got fooled when the ice changed dramatically from when she had competed in the Hot Shots earlier in the day.
"A 'W' is always a good thing," she said. "You're always going to have one of those games during the week, where you struggle through it and pull one off. And that's usually the difference between making playoffs and not making playoffs. So, I'm happy with a win and obviously, I have to come out and play better (today)."
Harvey felt the opposite way.
"I thought that we had a better game than they did," she said. "But whatever, that's the way it goes."
Meanwhile, N.B.'s Andrea Kelly surprised P.E.I.'s Suzanne Gaudet 9-3 and Saskatchewan's Tracy Streifel 9-7 to finish the first day atop the standings at 2-0 in her Scott debut.
"I guess maybe we'll gain a little respect," suggested Kelly, who won last year's national junior championship.
Tied with Canada's Jennifer Jones at 1-0 are: Nova Scotia's Colleen Jones, Ontario's Krista Scharf and Quebec's Eve Belisle. B.C.'s Kelly Scott and Streifel are 1-1.
Both Jennifer Jones and Harvey play Newfoundland's Heather Strong and Quebec's Belisle today.