Currie Chieftains 3
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
MARR did the old rope-a-dope trick, putting in a great defensive shift before catching Chieftains on the break to beat their main rivals for the league section of the season in their own back yard. The visitors made just a handful of visits to the Currie red zone but they seemed to make almost every one count with two first half tries very much against the run of play and absolutely no scores after the break.
The Chieftains will be pinching themselves and wondering how this one got away because with something like 80 percent of possession they lacked the composure, discipline and control to make it count. Even in the final five minutes, when Marr were playing shorthanded with Benedict Grant in the bin, the home side still failed to break Marr’s steely resolve.
“We are obviously delighted with the win,” said Marr coach Craig Redpath after the final whistle. “In the first half we had two chances and scored two tries. We dug deep and conditions weren’t great for running rugby but we will take that after last week’s poor performance.”
When asked if the league was Marr’s for the asking, Redpath was quick to squash any such talk. “Not at all,” he insisted. “There is a long, long way to go. We still have Hawick at home, we still have Selkirk away and every team is fighting.”
Opposite number Mark Cairns felt his team only had themselves to blame. “I think there were some bad decisions from the players,” he said. “We have actually practised a lot being in that opposition red zone so it’s disappointing that we didn’t go through the processes that we discussed on Tuesday and Thursday last week.”
Chieftains dominated the opening passages of play. The home team actually butchered two clear-cut overlaps on the left hand side of the field in the opening minutes. It was to prove a costly. Gregor Hunter nosed his side in front with a penalty after ten minutes with little idea that these first points of the match would prove to be their last.
This seemed to wake Marr up. With a strong wind at their backs, the visiting forwards got a rumble on and, just a few phases in, some seriously slick handling from the backs carved out a yard of space for leggy winger Richard Dalgleish to capitalise on the left wing; giving Currie a lesson in finishing. Colin Sturgeon added the important extras to give Marr a 7-3 advantage.
Much of the remainder of the first half was played deep inside the Marr half of the field but converting pressure into points proved a tricky task for the home aside. Two attacking line-outs in the first half went astray (plus another three in the second half), one attacking scrum was rocked back on its heels by a magnificent effort from Marr’s tight five and the slippery ball made handling something of a lottery.
When Marr’s back field did open up invitingly for Hunter, his cross field kick/pass was overcooked and rolled harmlessly into touch on the far side of the pitch. When the fly-half got his range pinpoint perfect in the second half, wingers Cameron Meager and Archie MacLean failed to secure the ball.
Another promising position went to waste when the referee, quite correctly, blew up for what looked like a head knock to Marr prop William Farquhar, who subsequently left the field
When one team spurns so many chances rugby’s unwritten rules insist that the opposition makes them pay. Sure enough, Marr countered from deep thanks to a great break-out by breakaway Grant and centre Conor Bickerstaff.
A few plays later, Currie’s desperate try-line defence was forced to concede a cynical penalty and hooker Fergus Scott was carded. Marr opted for a scrum under the posts rather than an easy three and two phases later that decision was vindicated when their own hooker, Ollie Rossi barreled over from close range, Sturgeon again adding the extras to make it 14-3 at the break which is how it remained for the rest of the game.
Currie dominated territory and possession in the second half even more than they had in the first but had nothing to show for all the blood, sweat and tears as Marr’s spirited defence trumped everything that the increasingly desperate Chieftains threw at it.
Currie Chieftains: J McCaig; C Meager (Patterson 38), S Hamilton, A Hall, A MacLean; G Hunter, G Christie; G Christie, F Scott (Edwards 64), R Patterson (Argiro 25), M Poole (Ferguson 75), M Vernel, R Vucago, W Nelson, R Davies.
Marr: G Montgomery; J Scott, G Paxton,C Bickerstaff, R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, J Preston; W Farquhar (Henderson 37) (Muir 70), O Rossi, C Henderson (Sweet 25), E Hamilton, A Fraser Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant.
Referee: Keith Allen.
Currie Chieftains: Pen: Hunter
Marr: Tries: Dalgleish, Rossi; Cons: Sturgeon 2.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 0-0, 3-0, 3-7, 3-14 (h-t).
Yellow cards –
Currie Chieftains: Scott
Marr: B Grant
Man-of-the-Match: The award could go to any of Marr’s forward pack for an indomitable defensive effort but number eight Benedict Grant was a cut above, offering solidity without the ball and surprising pace with it.
Talking Point: Late in the game, Chieftains were pressing hard for a score and had Marr corralled into one corner of the field when an attacking knock-on allowed the visitors a scrum. Marr insisted they had run out of props and brought on Andrew Muir who was listed in my programme as a hooker but who Currie claimed was a prop. Whatever the truth, the scrums went uncontested at what could have proved a crucial time in the game and Currie’s officials were unhappy.