Krista McCarville and Kathy O’Rourke are leading the pack

Ontario champion Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay and Prince Edward Island’s Kathy O’Rourke are headed for a front-running collision at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts late today. The two leaders at 5-and-1 after six rounds will collide on the 7:30 p.m. ET draw with the winner assuming the top rung in the tournament standings heading into the last two days of preliminary round-robin activity. McCarville, playing in her fourth Scotties in five years, added her fifth win Tuesday afternoon, defeating Newfoundland/Labrador 8-5. The Islanders won their fifth Tuesday morning, a 7-4 decision over winless Nova Scotia. “Battle for first place?” asked McCarville. “It’s exciting and it’s where we want to be.” McCarville executed a double-kill to score four against Shelley Nichols of St. John’s in the third end, then stole two in the fourth for a 6-1 lead. “We struggled a bit with our peels,” explained the Thunder Bay skip. “We’d hoped to end it early but that’s why we had to play it out. But it doesn’t matter. A win is a win and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.” Nichols, whose reputation is for high, hard ones, never was able to play those shots as she struggled to battle from behind. Conqueror of Team Canada on Monday, the Newfoundlanders tumbled to a record of 2-and-4. Elsewhere on the afternoon docket, defending champion Jennifer Jones completed a day’s comeback with a second straight win. In the wake of a two-loss Monday, Jones hit for four in the second end and refused to relinquish control in a 10-7 conquest of B.C.’s Kelly Scott, a long-time foe. Earlier, Jones hung on for a 9-7 win over Alberta’s youthful Valerie Sweeting of Edmonton. “We play them a lot but I wouldn’t say there really is a rivalry,” said Team Canada vice-skip Cathy Overton-Clapham, who is playing in her 11th Scotties. “If we knew why we’ve been inconsistent, one day to the next, we’d figure out how to remedy it. One day we just don’t play well and we get mad at ourselves and come out the next day and we’re fine.” The defenders finished the day a half-game short of the leaders while Scott, Jill Thurston of Manitoba, Amber Holland of Saskatchewan and Eve Belisle of Quebec were next in line with three losses. Scott and Thurston had the advantage of fourth wins already in the bag. “It’s always a big game,” admitted Scott of collisions with the Jones team. “We’re both Canadian and world champions so we want to see how we stack up against each other. You always feel good when you beat a team like that so we just hope to see them again this week. “What are we now? I think we’re 2-and-2 this season. This game, they got a jump on us and we just couldn’t make it back.” Thurston completed her day with a 7-4 win over the fading young Albertans while Holland seemingly got untracked with an 8-6 win over Belisle. In other evening games today, Saskatchewan faced New Brunswick’s Andrea Kelly (2-4), Quebec tackles Sharon¬† Cormier’s Yellowknifers (2-4) and Nichols and her Newfoundlanders (2-4) take on the Nova Scotians (0-6) of Nancy McConnery.