Currie Chieftains 57
Aberdeen Grammar 3
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS tightened their grip on second spot in the Tennent’s Premiership table with a stylish nine-try romp in the rain. Admittedly the Granite City side were below strength, with a clutch of key men unavailable. However, the hosts dominated proceedings from the outset and produced patches of rugby that were easy on the eye.
There was no time for the newcomers in the away side to settle, as within a minute of the kick-off Chieftains had issued a statement of intent. Steve Hamilton raced at the Grammar defence and, when the contact came, offloaded to Archie MacLean who darted over, leaving Gregor Hunter a simple conversion.
Grammar’s first visit to the Chieftains 22 yielded a penalty and Sam Knudson banged over the kick to open his side’s account.
Hunter’s cultured left foot repeatedly turned the opposition defence, and it was no surprise when the hosts extended their lead – Fergus Scott adding to his burgeoning try tally when he capped a multi-phase effort by plunging over. Hunter added the extras and was on target again after Scott had crashed over once more following a close-range lineout.
Grammar had been somewhat passive in the opening quarter, but they started to enjoy their share of possession and apply pressure to the Chieftains defence. However, their case was not helped when combative No 8 Robin Cessford took a knock that ended his involvement.
And it was the home side that was next on the score sheet. A quickly-taken penalty sparked a series of pick-and-go efforts that ended with Gregor Christie firing a pass out to Charlie Brett, who dived in at the corner for the bonus point touchdown. Hunter’s touchline conversion just crept over to complete the first-half scoring.
The rain arrived as the second half kicked off, but the deteriorating conditions failed to dampen Chieftains’ desire to add to their tally. Try number five arrived within five minutes – Matt Poole finding a way through after Grammar had lost possession close to their line.
The visitors enjoyed another spell of pressure and for the first time stretched the Chieftains defence. Wallace Nelson was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, but the hosts escaped without conceding points.
And they resumed control to add two quick-fire tries. Graeme Carson grabbed the first when he reacted quickest after Cammy Meager had been halted just short of the whitewash, and Steve Hamilton sprinted in for a converted score shortly afterwards.
And, by full-time, Meager had helped himself to a score, while Hamilton doubled up as Chieftains capitalised on a couple of passages of flowing rugby to take the total past the half century.
Little wonder that Chieftains coach Mark Cairns allowed himself a satisfied smile as he assessed the showing of his side. “To score 57 points in these conditions is class”, he said. “I think a lot of credit has to go to our forwards. I think Aberdeen probably thought they would come here and give us a good physical game. We had been saying all week that our forwards would win us this match. Our backs get a lot of credit, and rightfully so, but actually it was the forwards that got us on the front foot, we were competitive at the lineouts, our scrum looked good.”
While acknowledging that there is still more to come, he admitted that overall he was satisfied, adding: “I did think that was a really complete performance although there’s always stuff you can do better. I was really pleased with the defence. The easiest way to defend is to keep possession – we did that pretty well but when we were under the pump on our own line in the first half and on our own line in the second half, we defended that try line as if it was 0-0. That was the most pleasing thing because I felt it was something we had to get better at. Although we’ve got a big score, the most pleasing thing for me is the defence.”
In the away camp, Ali O’Connor insisted that all was not doom and gloom. “We got a big score against us so we’re disappointed about that, but there was a number of positives and it’s about trying to make sure we highlight that to the lads,” he said. We were missing about seven players who would probably have featured today. That meant we had seven guys making their debuts. It’s a big day for them.”
And he promised a completely different performance when Chieftains travel North in the second half of the campaign. “It’s disappointment on the scoreboard, but I think when it comes to the reverse fixture at Rubislaw, they’ll see something different.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; S Hamilton, A Hall, R Nelson, A McLean; G Hunter, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott©, M Argiro, M Poole, H Ferguson, R Vucago, J O’Brien, W Nelson. Subs: C Ramsay, J Ramsay, S Edwards, C Meager, F Sayers.
Aberdeen Grammar: T Clarke; N Brown, D Russell, G Nichol, L Murphy; S Knudson©, J Troup; C Reddish, A Cook, M Schosser, N Coe, A Robertson, B Inglis, W Alton, R Cessford. Subs: Y Ahmanache, T Ryan, V Ojogwu, D Wallen, P Ritchie
Referee: G Ormiston.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: MacLean, Scott 2, Brett, Poole, Carson, Hamilton 2, Meager. Cons: Hunter 6.
Aberdeen Grammar: Pen: Knudson.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 12-3, 14-3, 19-3, 21-3, 26-3, 28-3 half-time, 33-3, 38-3, 43-3, 45-3, 50-3, 55-3, 57-3.
Yellow card –
Currie Chieftains: W Nelson.
Man of the Match: There were several contenders in the home ranks, and although Mark Cairns praised his forwards, the shrewd kicking of Gregor Hunter was crucial to keeping Chieftains on the front foot and quelling Grammar’s efforts to break out.
Talking point: Chieftains showed an edge that Cairns has been looking for – epitomised by a defensive effort on their own line when they were already 45-3 ahead. On this showing, no one will relish visiting Malleny Park over the coming weeks.