Updated: March 21, 2013 3:54 AM | By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

Canada's Homan improves playoff chances

Canada's Homan improves playoff chances

Canada's skip Rachel Homan delivers a stone against China at the world women's curling championship in Riga, Latvia on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Canada won 7-4. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

RIGA, Latvia - Canada's Rachel Homan will be playing on the weekend at the world women's curling championship.

She defeated China's Bingyu Wang 7-4 on Thursday morning to guarantee a tiebreaker appearance. Homan locked up a playoff spot moments later when Latvia upset Switzerland 8-7 in an extra end.

Homan will play in the Page playoff 3-4 game. She can earn the third seed with a victory over Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa in the afternoon draw.

The China-Canada game was a defensive battle over the first eight ends. China scored two in the ninth but Canada had the hammer coming home.

Homan used her last throw to take out a stone by the four-foot ring to score four for the win. She gave credit to her teammates for their strong play in the final end.

"We made some big shots there to help us guarantee our two," Homan said.

The Ottawa Curling Club skip, who is making her debut at this event, improved to 7-3 with the victory. Scotland and Sweden are 9-1 and will play in the Page playoff 1-2 game.

The United States (5-4) needs to beat Scotland and Russia (6-4) to earn the remaining playoff spot. Russia would get the last berth if they beat the Americans in the evening.

Switzerland (5-5) and Japan (4-5) still had a slim chance of reaching a tiebreaker but both countries need to win their remaining games and hope the Americans and Russians finish with six wins apiece.

The Canadians extended their winning streak to three games with the victory. They're not dominating rinks like they did at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month, but they're still winning the tight games.

"The good news about having close games all the time is you're constantly playing pressure shots," said coach Earle Morris. "That bodes well because come playoff time, you're used to the pressure and it means you'll make the tough ones in the playoffs as well."

In other early games, Scotland's Eve Muirhead dumped Russia's Anna Sidorova 9-2 in seven ends. Sweden's Margaretha Sigfridsson needed eight ends to defeat Italy's Diana Gaspari 10-4.

Iveta Stasa-Satsune of the host side recorded her first win of the tournament with an 8-7, extra-end victory over Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni.

The Latvians hugged and cried tears of joy after the upset win, a significant accomplishment considering there are only a few hundred curlers in the country and Riga has just one dedicated curling rink.

Homan is hoping to win Canada's first world women's title since Manitoba's Jennifer Jones was victorious in 2008.

Alberta's Heather Nedohin skipped Canada to a bronze medal at the 2012 world championship in Lethbridge. Switzerland's Mirjam Ott won gold last year.

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