Currie Chieftains 19
ERIN MCRITCHIE @ Malleny Park
IT could have gone either way, but the home side deserved their win which books them a place in the last four of the Scottish Cup and confirms their return to form after a wobble before Christmas which threatened to derail their Premiership challenge.
“We knew it would be a tight game,” victorious coach Mark Cairns admitted post-match. “I thought it was a great advert for Premiership rugby – I know it was the Cup, but we’re both Premiership teams at the top of that league.
“I felt we kept the tempo really high in the first half especially, and then in the second half we defended with real guts and real clarity. I thought we kept our heads at times and managed to resist a lot of Hawick pressure to come away with the win.”
Meanwhile, Hawick head coach George Graham was understandably gutted with the result. “I don’t think we controlled the game as much as we could have done,” he said. “I thought we were in it right up until the last five or ten minutes. To give Currie their due, they defended very well.
“I think our boys just lack a little bit of game management when we get into the red zone. But it is what it is, you’ve got to deal with the rough and the smooth. It’s bitterly disappointing though because I felt whoever wins this game will go to the final.”
The Chieftains wasted little time in setting out their stall with some good carries from Matias Argiro and Steven Hamilton, as well as a break up the middle of the park from scrum-half Gregor Christie. Both sides moved ball well through the phases, and worked their options across the field. An organised Currie defensive line seemed to frustrate Hawick as they tried time and again to find a glimpse of the try line through the solid black and gold wall they had come up against.
Over half an hour had been played before the scoreboard eventually came to life when Christie spotted a gap in Hawick’s line just to the left of his breakdown and took it upon himself to pop through it. Hooker Fergus Scott followed in support and he then popped a pass to the oncoming Wallace Nelson, who crashed over for the opening score. Adam Hall added the extras.
Chieftains were soon back in the hunt for another try and a powerful run down the wing by Roy Vucago in which he all but ran over Logan Gordon-Wooley and Kirk Ford certainly looked promising – but it was the visitors who claimed the next points with Andrew Mitchell bursting through a tackle and over for the score on the cusp of half time, with Ali Weir converting the extra two points.
Not ready to end the half a low note, Mike Vernel put in a monstrous carry to put his side in a good position close to the line, but the referee deemed the ball held up a couple of phases later.
Chieftains fired out the blocks after the break with centre Steven Hamilton – who was key to the home side’s attacking play all afternoon – making an impact then feeding Fraser Sayers as the Chieftains looked to threaten the Hawick line. Nelson then had a powerful carry, before the wall was spread along the backline, allowing Ryan Southern to jet over for the score, which went unconverted by Hall.
Hawick found a second wind as the game entered its final quarter ad they laid siege to the Chieftains’ line in a sustained period of pressure which culminated in captain Shawn Muir ducking over to even things up, but Bailey Donaldson missed the conversion opportunity to put the away team ahead.
Chieftains raised the tempo with the pace of winger Cameron Meager and full-back Sayers a real threat, while the forwards also turned the screw, and it was this approach which finally separated the sides when home No 8 Rhys Davies crashed over for tghe decisive score. Hall slotted the easy conversion and it was a seven point game.
Hawick had a handful of opportunities in the closing minutes, but couldn’t pull the trigger.
Currie Chieftains: F Sayers; C Meager, S Hamilton, R Southern, J McCaig; A Hall, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott, M Argiro, M Poole, M Vernel, R Vucago, W Nelson, R Davies. Subs: R Patterson, S Edwards, J O’Brien, A Harley, A McLean.
Hawick: K Ford; L Gordon-Wooley, A Mitchell, G Walker, L Ferguson; A Weir, G Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer, D Johnstone, S Fairbairn, D Suddon, J Linton, B McNeil, S Graham. Subs: C Renwick, C Bacherzewski, A Piotrowski, M Bannerman, B Donaldson.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Nelson, Southern, Davies; Cons: Hall 2.
Hawick: Tries: Mitchell, Muir; Cons: Weir.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7 (h-t) 12-7; 12-12; 17-12; 19-12.
Man-of-the-Match: It very easily could have been hooker Fergus Scott, a captain who likes to lead by example if his immense work rate was anything to go by, but ultimately, but Steven Hamilton gets the nod for an all-action performance which involved several excellent contributions in attack.
Talking point: Hawick seemed to have more momentum coming into this game, but will this set-back deflate the head of steam they had built up during their hunt for a second-place finish in the Premiership?