Currie Chieftains v Jed-Forest: Malleny men hold their nerve to stay on track for a home play-off

Visitors recover from poor start to have the game within their grasp but Grant Paxton's yellow-carding proves costly

Currie Chieftains kept on track for a home play-off with a win over Jed-Forest. Image: Fraser Gaffney
Currie Chieftains kept on track for a home play-off with a win over Jed-Forest. Image: Fraser Gaffney

Currie Chieftains 36

Jed-Forest 26

COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS remain on course for a home semi-final in the play-offs after taking all five league points in this open and entertaining encounter. The home side looked to be heading for a comfortable afternoon when they claimed three tries in the opening 13 minutes. However, it is credit to Jed’s battling qualities that they fought their way back into the game and at one stage had the hosts looking worried, before they ultimately regained the initiative – although the Borderers left with a well-deserved bonus point.   

Home coach Mark Cairns concedes that Marr will finish top and he is casting an eye over his shoulder at nearest challengers Hawick, knowing that any slip-ups by his side might allow the Greens to secure second spot.

“I’m happy with getting a bonus point victory – that’s important for us. We’ve got to expect Hawick to take five points from every game they go into, so it’s important we keep winning first and then if the opportunity arises we get a bonus point. We’re looking to get a home semi-final and the way to do that is to win our matches,” said Cairns.


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He was happy with several aspects of the performance, not least the contribution of his captain, who was the star man. “I thought Fergus Scott led really well from the front. His tackling was outstanding, he made line breaks, he was hitting his line-outs – he’s an outstanding player,” added Cairns.

“The other positive was our ability to keep it tight when it really mattered. I would have liked to have done that earlier in the second half, but actually when we had to screw it down, we did it well.”

Chieftains started well and opened the scoring after two minutes when Gregor Hunter fed James McCaig, whose well-timed pass gave Adam Hall options. Instead of freeing the man on his outside, the centre decided to go it alone and forced his way over. Hunter added the extras.

Jed responded with a spell of pressure inside the home 22. After a series of pick and go efforts that failed to produce points, the visitors looked to spin the ball wide. However, the move foundered on a loose pass and Chieftains managed to clear the danger.

The Borderers paid the price for that failure to score when Scott blasted his way through the middle and offloaded to Ryan Southern on the edge of the Jed 22, leaving the scrum-half a comfortable run to the line to dot down and give Hunter a simple conversion.

The hosts bagged try number three in 13 minutes when a bulldozing run by Roy Vucago was halted on the Jed 10 metre line. Hunter took the recycled ball and delivered an exquisite angled grubber kick that found Mike Vernel in space and with time to pick up and dive over.

Jed eventually earned some reward for their efforts when another period camped in the home 22 yielded a string of penalties that saw the referee have a word with home skipper Scott, and that period ended with Donald Grieve crashing over for the score. Robbie Yourston banged over the conversion.

By half-time, Chieftains had regained control and secured the bonus point after Southern swept recycled ball out to Hunter who dummied his way over for a self-converted touchdown.

It was important for Jed to score next and they did so six minutes after the restart. Grieve almost caught out the Chieftains defence with a quickly taken penalty. However, he was halted just short of the whitewash and Paulo Ferreira completed the job, Yourston again converting.

And the fightback gathered momentum when Southern knocked on inside the Jed 22, allowing Calum Young to break out and carry play deep into the opposition half before passing inside to Lewis Young, who sprinted over. Yourston’s successful conversion cut the deficit to five points.

However, having clawed their way back into the contest, Jed then surrendered the momentum. Grant Paxton was yellow carded for coming in from the side at a breakdown, having previously been warned, then Hunter sent Steve Hamilton racing in for a fifth Chieftains try.

Hunter’s kick was good and he extended the lead to more than two converted scores when he booted a penalty as the clock ticked towards injury time.

But Jed were not quite finished yet and they earned a bonus point when Calum Young was rewarded for his persistence when he produced a fine solo score. That point was some consolation for the visitors, although coach Gavin Kerr saw the result as a missed opportunity.

“I’m slightly frustrated because I think the game was there for the taking for us,” said the former international prop, who was on Jed bench but was not called into action. “In the first half, we gave away soft tries but I thought we dealt with the second half really well. The sin-binning cost us”

“We didn’t panic when we were three tries behind early on and I thought we were in control in the second half. We managed to get some good tries out of it. I was pleased with that point at the end, more for the boys after the effort they had put in.”

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: F Sayers; S Hamilton, S King, A Hall, J McCaig; G Hunter, R Southern; G Carson, F Scott©, M Argiro, M Vernel, S Edwards, R Vucago, Nelson, R Davies. Subs: R Patterson,  C Ramsay, H Ferguson, C Meager, C Lessells.

Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, G Young, R Yourston, R Marshall; M Mitchell, N Stingl; P Ferreira, G Paxton, H Meadows, B Saxton, G Paxton, D Grieve, M Weekley, G Young. Subs: G Kerr, E Lauder, J Ferguson, J McGough, J Laing.

Referee: J Perriam

 

Scorers –

Currie Chieftains: Tries:  Hall, Southern, Vernel, Hunter, Hamilton; Cons: Hunter 4; Pen; Hunter.

Jed-Forest: Tries: Grieve, Ferreira, L Young, C Young; Cons: Yourston 3.

Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 19-5; 19-7; 24-7; 26-7 (h-t) 26-12; 26-14; 26-19; 26-21; 31-21; 33-21; 36-21; 36-26.

 

Yellow cards –

Jed-Forest: Paxton

 

Man-of-the-match: The outstanding performer of the day was Chieftains skipper Fergus Scott, whose contribution covered all the bases, throwing, tackling, powerful runs and exceptional leadership.

Talking point: Chieftains are celebrating their half century this year and are challenging for honours in both league and cup. Could they mark the occasion with silverware?


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About Colin Renton 212 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!