COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
FOR the second Saturday in a row, Watsonians were left ruing a win that had got away after Currie snatched a victory that they barely deserved when Rory Clegg booted a late penalty. Nevertheless, allied with results elsewhere, it was good enough to move the Malleny Park men into a BT Premiership play-off spot.
The primary focus for Watsonians remains on escaping the relegation battle, but there was plenty of evidence that they have the wherewithal to survive. Nevertheless, it was another defeat, and they need to start to earning more than just bonus points.
“That’s two weeks in a row, two real sickeners”, said Watsonians coach Marcus Di Rollo,who was again at a loss to explain why it had taken his men so long to hit their stride. “When we get in to it we are a good side and we can probably put anyone under, but we need to focus on the first 10-15 minutes.
“For large parts of the game, we looked really good. We played with a lot character and some good rugby in patches. You can take away a lot of positives but wins would be better.”
There has been much debate over the merits of the professional release and the commitment of some of the players allocated to clubs. However, the value to the home side of their Glasgow Warriors representatives was beyond doubt.
Of the trio on show Rory Clegg made an early contribution with a brace of penalties that came either side of a sustained spell of Watsonians pressure that ultimately failed to produce any points.
Clegg then turned creator, with a powerful pass over the heads of two defenders to Ben Robbins, who completed the job. Clegg stroked over the conversion and again added the extras in 26 minutes after his Glasgow colleague Ratu Tagive had powered down the right flank for Currie’s second try.
Watsonians had failed to make anything of their previous visits to home territory, but they made their next incursion count as Sean Crombie darted for the line and showed impressive awareness to twist his body over the line as he took contact from Luke Crosbie.
That score sparked an increase in intensity and both sides raised the pace in the closing minutes of the half, with some running rugby of the highest order.
However, Currie were unable to add to their tally and Watsonians hauled themselves right back into the game with their second try. Reiss Cullen was the catalyst with two interventions and the recycled ball was spun along the line to Andrew Chalmers who dotted down in the corner before adding the conversion to cut the deficit to 20-12 at half time.
The visitors dominated the possession in the opening minutes of the second period and clawed back three more points when Chalmers booted a penalty. And the fightback was complete when efforts by Rory Drummond and Euan Dods were repelled before Calum Eastwood forced his way over. The reliable boot of Chalmers weighed in with the extra two points, giving Watsonians the lead for the first time.
The momentum was now unequivocally with Watsonians and they should really have extended their lead. And their failure to do so came at a huge cost. Having spent more than half an hour hemmed into their own half, a breakout yielded a long-range penalty when Clegg missed by a small margin. Then, with two minutes left to play, he was presented with a chance to win the match. And, this time, he banged over the penalty to snatch the win.
“We got away with it. We didn’t deserve to win that game. The reason we won it was because we put in a good first 20 and we held on for dear life to stay within distance of them and then managed to get ourselves a penalty and kick it to win. We’ve not done much more”, said Currie coach Ben Cairns. “That’s by far the worst performance we have put on and won a game. At the same time, we’ve had a couple of really good performances where we haven’t won the game.”
Currie: J Forbes; R Tagive, R Nelson, H Elms, B Robbins; R Clegg, C Shiel; J Cox, F Scott, G Carson, H Bain, M Vernel, L Crosbie, S Ainslie, R Weston©. Subs: R Grant, R Patterson, R Davies, R Smith, R Snedden.
Watsonians: A Chalmers; M Bertram, J Ferguson, D Innes, K Young; E Scott, R Cullen; K Whyte, S Crombie, C Eastwood, M Poole, C Borthwick, V Fihaki, A Duckett, R Drummond©. Subs: D Miller, N Borel, E Dods, E McKirdy, S McLeod.
Currie: Tries, Robbins, Tagive; Cons: Clegg 2; Pens: Clegg 3
Watsonians: Tries, Crombie, Chalmers, Eastwood; Cons: Chalmers 2, Pen: Chalmers
Scoring sequence: (Currie first) 3-0, 6-0, 11-0,13-0 18-0, 20-0, 20-5, 20-10, 20-12 (half time) 20-20, 20-22, 23-22
Referee: S Turnbull
Man-of-the Match: He may ended up on the losing side but Reiss Cullen produced a livewire performance at scrum-half, before moving to the wing where he continued to pose a threat.
Talking Point: There are valid arguments for and against the pro draft, but there was no doubting the positive contribution of the Edinburgh and Glasgow players to this entertaining encounter.