Stirling County 12
Currie Chieftains 35
STEPHEN BRUNSDON @ Bridgehaugh
A DOMINANT second half performance enabled Currie Chieftains to leapfrog Ayr into second place in the BT Premiership standings with a comprehensive victory over Stirling County.
With Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie in attendance at Bridgehaugh, this match was tipped to be an arm wrestle on a warm but blustery afternoon, and on the basis of the opening 20 minutes, it looked as though it could well have been, with County starting promisingly. Tries from Ruairidh Leishman and Logan Trotter were cancelled out by Charlie Shiel and Matt Hooks’ efforts for the Chieftains, despite gale-force winds hampered a competitive opening 40 minutes.
After the break, Chieftains kicked on while County simply capitulated. The home side failed to score another point as Ben Cairns’ side strengthened their grip on the match via scores from Captain Robbie Nelson, Hamish Bain and Glen Faulds to cap off a convincing win.
“Coming away from home and getting five points, that’s a pretty good performance I guess,” reflected Cairns post-match. “They had the conditions in the first half and we let them off the hook a bit. There were quite a lot of mistakes in the game generally and I think that made it a bit stop-start.”
While Chieftains ultimately turned the screw with the advantage of the wind behind them in the second period, County’s frustrations at failing to finish off golden opportunities was an all too familiar tale.
“Being 14-12 down at half-time with the wind behind us, we should have taken more of our chances in the first half,” said home player-coach Peter Jericevich.
“What we’re pleased with are the two tries, both set-piece. It shows that when we get a good platform we can attack from it. It’s just individual errors again, we defended very well at times, got some momentum and then, all of a sudden, there’s an error.”
It had all started so well for the home side, who anchored themselves deep in the Chieftains half. This pressure paid off within five minutes, with Ruairidh Leishman finishing off a superb driving maul to touch down for the opening try.
The response from the visitors was immediate. They too got to within yards of the County line thanks to explosive carries from Rhys Davies and Thomas Gordon.
Quick recycling opened up a scrum-half-sized gap for Shiel to sell a lovely dummy and sprint in under the posts from short-range. Forbes added the extras to give the Chieftains a 7-5 lead.
The Chieftains’ ambition to play from deep instead of fighting against the wild winds with the boot proved their undoing for County’s second score. Off the base of the scrum following a Currie knock-on, Peter Jercevich and Grant Hughes combined brilliantly to feed Logan Trotter who came off his right wing. Once in clear air, the Scotland Under-20 winger streaked in for the try, which Hope converted.
The away side had the last say in the first half as centre Hooks finished off a strong period of possession and pressure, going over from close-range to give the visitors a somewhat surprising 14-12 half-time lead.
Chieftains pressed on at the start of the second half, County were frankly nowhere. Two quick-fire tries from Nelson and Bain within the space of eight minutes was enough for Cairns’ side to secure the bonus point.
The Chieftains also pinned County in their own half more effectively through the clever tactical kicking of the half-back duo of Shiel and Forbes.
Forbes had a cracker of a game, kicking all five conversions and caused myriad problems for the struggling hosts throughout.
Cairns said: “We adapted to that and the way we started the second half sort of blew them away. The two tries definitely helped. Charlie from nine and Jamie Forbes controlled the territory very well by their boot and then once we were in the right areas, I thought we kept the ball a lot better than them.”
The final nail in the coffin for County was perhaps not when Glen Faulds sped over for the away team’s fifth score, but their inability to cross for a deserved consolation try in the last minute.
Currie’s victory moves them back into second place in the BT Premiership standings ahead of Ayr, who lost to Heriot’s at Goldenacre. Next up is a trip to Glasgow Hawks in the first of three must-win encounters.
Purvis Marquees support Currie Chieftains
Stirling County: J Hope; L Trotter, E Macgarvie, R Curle, K Gossman; G Hughes, P Jericevich; R Chies, R Kennedy, A Nicol; S Yarrow, J Pow, H Burr, S Macdonald, R Leishman. Subs used: B Gilchrist, A Wood, S Neill, L Bonar, R Swan.
Currie Chieftains: B Robbins; G Faulds, M Hook, R Nelson©, C Gray; J Forbes, C Shiel; K Burney, F Scott, A McWilliam; H Bain, V Wright, M Vernel, T Gordon, R Davies. Subs used: G Carson, C Mackintosh, S Ainslie, S McGinley, M O’Neil..
Stirling County: Tries: Leishman, Trotter; Cons: Hope.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Shiel, Hooks, Nelson, Bain, Faulds; Cons: Forbes 5.
Scoring sequence (Stirling County first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 10-7; 12-7; 12-12; 12-14 (h-t); 12-19; 12-21; 12-26; 12-28; 12-33; 12-35.
Referee: B Blaine
Man-of-the-Match: Difficult to separate from his scrum-half partner Shiel, but the way Jamie Forbes consistently got Chieftains back into the right area of the field proved the key. Kicked all his conversions and was a lively threat in attack.
Talking point: How many times do we have to lament County’s failure to take their chances? A positive first half performance from the home side gave the locals optimism but the fact they trailed by two points despite a strong wind at their backs was critical. The most frustrating part was their total implosion in the second period where they barely managed to get out if their own half. Chueftains made the most of this weakness.