Currie Chieftains 40
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
THIS was a great advert – but only for summer rugby. There was no shortage of ambition on show but the miserable weather – cold, wet and windy – meant that neither side was able to handle with much confidence. The rolling maul was the weapon of choice if only because it kept at least half the team warm.
Passes were dropped, knock-ons were rife, kicking was mixed, defence was on top of attack and any continuity or fluidity was at a premium.
GHA won enough ball to win this match, and a couple of others besides, but they didn’t have the weapons to trouble Currie, especially in the wet. The visitors would run through countless phases without ever looking like scoring a try until someone inevitably spilled the wet fish that the ball had become – at which point Currie either kicked downtown or just occasionally ran from deep.
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The Chieftains made perhaps four visits to the GHA red zone in the first half and came away with three tries. It was all a little too easy, because it looked like the home team had another gear when they needed it and could score almost at will.
“Currie is always a tough place to come and play,” said GHA assistant coach Calum Forrester. “I don’t think it was a 40-point game. At half-time we had given a very good account of ourselves, played some really good territory.
“Currie today showed a bit of class with Gregor Hunter at stand-off and Mike Vernel in the pack, making the right decisions in the right places. They showed how to play these conditions very well.”
GHA kicked off with the wind at their backs and opened the scoring with a long-range penalty expertly kicked by winger Adam Scott from dead ahead. Currie’s response was immediate.
The home side won a lineout deep inside the GHA 22. The first Currie drive was halted illegally, the second was not, with hooker Graeme Carson claiming the score but leaving the field injured shortly after.
Monkey see, monkey do and GHA’s big men did the exact same thing at the opposite end of the field, driving a lineout when they won some high field position but failing to finish it off with a try. Instead they huffed and puffed for a long time, bashing their heads against a brick-wall Currie defence until Scott opted to add a second penalty around the half-hour mark.
Currie’s response was even quicker this time, because just two minutes later they had their second try. Currie swept upfield, almost unopposed, until lock Mike Vernel crashed over from short range with embarrassing ease. Hunter did well to convert from the far touchline.
Again GHA hammered and again Currie broke out to score, this try the pick of the bunch, with the ball going through the hands of Rhys Davies, Vernel and Gregor Christie before replacement breakaway Wallace Nelson finished the move off to give Currie a 19-6 lead at the break. It mattered little that Currie had been reduced to just 14 men with flanker Hamish Ferguson in the sin bin for repeatedly getting on the wrong side of the referee.
With the wind at their backs, and the weather worsening, if that was possible, Currie added more scores in the second half from Reece Patterson, the fourth and bonus-point score, Roy Vucago and Sam Edwards.
At the end of the match the hardy spectators were presented with medals by the grateful club for sticking with them throughout the end-of-days deluge. Actually, they weren’t, but they probably should have been.
Currie Chieftains: F Sayers; C Meager, S Hamilton, A Hall, A MacLean; G Hunter, G Christie; R Patterson, G Carson, C Ramsay, M Vernel, S Edwards, H Ferguson, W Nelson, R Vucago. Subs: R Davies, M Argiro, M Currie, J McCaig, W Nelson.
GHA: G Mollison; J Edgar, C Lonergan, A Hughes, A Scott; J MacKinnon, A Gillman; T Brogan, H Clarke, M Fox, A Barnett, J McCarthy, A Kerr, M Ryan, L McCutcheon. Subs: S Carson, S Fisher, M Marinkovich, G Baird, J Anderson.
Referee: S O’Neill.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Carson, Vernel, Nelson, Patterson, Vucago, Edwards. Cons: Hunter 4, Hall.
GHA: Pens: Scott 2.
Scoring sequence (Currie first): 0-3, 5-3, 5-6, 12-6, 19-6 half-time, 26-6, 33-6, 40-6.
Yellow card –
Man of the Match: Gregor Hunter was his usual composed self ,but it has to go to a home forward who gave him the platform so we’ll go with prop forward Cairn Ramsay, who carried with conviction and tackled with malice aforethought.
Talking point: The result was never really in doubt, so why were the Currie bench so incensed when a clearance kick was adjudged to have gone straight into touch? Home officials were pointing to a spot on the pitch where they thought the ball had bounced like John McEnroe screaming “chalk dust”. It was a little OTT.