Youth and experience combine as Currie Chieftains assert title credentials

A comfortable home win for Mark Cairns men sets them up nicely for next weekend's mouthwatering clash against Hawick

Currie Chieftains
Currie Chieftains made it two from two with a bone point win at home. Image: Fraser Gaffney

Currie Chieftains 34

Selkirk 17

COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS underlined their credentials as Premiership title challengers with a comfortable win over a Selkirk side that paid the price for a ten-minute lull in the third quarter. The Borderers started strongly and performed well in defence in the first half, but the patient approach of the home side eventually wore down the visitors’ resolve and they survived a late Selkirk flurry to emerge as comfortable winners.      

Coach Mark Cairns was unusually animated in the opening half hour when his side repeatedly fell foul of referee John Shaw – a former Currie player who could surely have had a better assignment for his first premiership match. However, over the piece, Cairns saw enough to feel satisfied with the progress the team is making.

“In terms of penalty count, we’ve got to look at ourselves first. I’m really disappointed with how many penalties we gave away, particularly in the first half,” he said. “Our forwards carried really well, especially Mike Vernel, who got us on the front foot, and when you’ve got guys like Gregor Hunter making decisions on go-forward ball, we are a difficult team to stop. We did that in patches, but patches of good play next week against Hawick are not going to be good enough.”

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Of the youngsters who have brought great energy to the side, he added: “A lot of them have come through the club and we’ve pulled them back after going to university and some have come from the junior section or straight from school. They know what the club’s all about and they have adapted quickly to the high intensity we want to play.”

That ambition was evident from the kick-off as, with a strong wind at their backs, Chieftains spent the first seven minutes camped in opposition territory. However, their sustained pressure yielded no points, although it did force a yellow card for Selkirk flanker Robert Cook for killing the ball within sight of the line.

Despite being a man short, the Borderers snatched the lead with their first attack, James Bett racing onto a well-weighted chip from Ross Nixon, and Aaron McColm converting,

The hosts were struggling to keep on the right side of the referee, conceding nine penalties in the opening quarter. However, when they did piece together a decent move, they offered a glimpse of their pace behind the scrum. And that eventually yielded points in 23 minutes when Hunter raced through and drew the final defender before releasing Gregor Christie for a try. The creator added the extras to square matters.

Hunter was on target again after Christie turned supplier to send Fergus Scott clear for the second Chieftains score four minutes later, and he extended the lead to 10 points when he stroked over a penalty shortly before half time.

Chieftains resumed well and a powerful run by Wallace Nelson – fielded at flanker rather than his normal postion of winger – created the platform for a multi-phase effort that saw them edge ever closer to the line before Hunter picked up and plunged over for a score he also converted.

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The Selkirk resistance was broken and the bonus point followed shortly afterwards when a quickly taken lineout caught the visitors napping and allowed Steven Hamilton to scamper over.

He was joined on the score sheet by Nelson, who capped another spell of Chieftains pressure when he was ideally placed to pick up at the base of a ruck and dot down.

Given the massive penalty count, Chieftains had been fortunate not to lose a man to the sin bin and the referee eventually lost patience, sending Nelson for 10 minutes on the sidelines after an offence in the home 22. From the resulting penalty, Selkirk moved the ball wide for Frazer Anderson to score.

The visitors bagged the final points of the afternoon when Bruce Riddell crashed over to raise hopes of a bonus point. But the home defence held firm throughout 10 minutes of injury time to complete the win.

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; S Hamilton, A Hall, A Harley, A MacLean; G Hunter, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott©, M Sonzogni Argiro, M Vernel, M Poole, J O’Brien, W Nelson D Dee. Subs used: E Blair, C Ramsay, H Ferguson, C Meager, C Lessels.

Selkirk: Aaron McColm; F Anderson, J Welsh, R Nixon, L Berte; C Anderson, L Morelle; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, J Houston, P Forest, R Cook, S McClymont, E McDougall. Subs used: Andrew McColm, G Forrest, A Mackay, J Henry, R Cottrell.

Referee: J Shaw.


Scorers –

Currie Chieftains: Tries: Christie, Scott, Hunter, Hamilton, Nelson. Cons: Hunter 3. Penalty: Hunter.

Selkirk: Tries: Bett, Anderson, Riddell. Con: McColm.

Scoring sequence (Chieftains first): 0-5, 0-7, 5-7, 7-7, 12-7, 14-7, 17-7 half-time, 22-7, 24-7, 29-7, 34-7, 34-12, 34-17.


Yellow Cards –

Chieftains: Nelson.

Selkirk: Cook.


Man of the match: The older heads, Gregor Hunter, Mike Vernel and Fergus Scott, brought their experience to bear but it was Wallace Nelson, fielded out of position at flanker, who caught the eye with his ball carrying, and he added gloss to his performance with a try before taking one for the team when he was carded.

Talking point: The newcomers in the Chieftains side are still bedding down and the performance was far from perfect, but the Malleny Park men have the makings of a squad capable of challenging for the title.

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About Colin Renton 288 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!