Currie Chieftains 38
IAIN HAY @ Braidholm
BACK in the Premiership after an exodus lasting over 10 years, the south Glasgow side were no match for the team that finished third in last year’s competition, but GHA can take heart from a much improved second-half performance, and the knowledge that they won’t face many sides as good as the Chieftains in the remainder of this campaign.
The west Edinburgh side came haring out of the traps and opened the scoring in under three minutes. A midfield break by centre Alex Harley, who troubled the GHA defence all afternoon with his arcing runs and turn of pace, was finished off in the corner by full-back Charlie Brett.
Then, nnother one of those breaks by Harley put Currie on the front-foot and GHA conceded a breakdown penalty deep in their own half, which fly-half and arch-puppeteer Gregor Hunter put to touch. Giant Argentinian prop Matias Argirowas was the man in possession when the Chieftains breached the GHA’s defence for their second score.
Currie’s set-piece prowess laid the foundations for try number three. They were awarded a penalty from their own scrum on half-way, which occurred due to a poor restart which ran all the way into the the away team’s in-goal area, and Hunter again kicked for the corner. Lock Matt Poole claimed the plaudits of his team-mates when the maul went rumbling over.
GHA showed their first sign of threat when full-back Grant Mollison scythed through Currie’s defence, but his pass to Cameron King was spilled forward.
The hosts had another sniff of the Chieftains’ line when sending a penalty deep into touch, only for the line-out to be overthrown and offering Currie the chance to counter. That man Harley, again, and earlier scorer Brett, combined to zoom down the left, but GHA winger Aaron Purewal positioned himself well to put Brett in two minds as to whether to go it alone or attempt the pass to Harley. Brett opted for the former and Purewal was able to put him down.
The respite didn’t last long, though. On a day with perfect conditions for attractive, running rugby, Currie’s backline was having a field-day, with right wing Steven Hamilton to the forefront. He was swatting defenders aside and making serious yardage, and it was he who claimed the bonus point try after exchanging passes with captain Fergus Scott.
Hamilton nearly claimed his second when Hunter angled a cross-kick towards him with penalty advantage being played, but although he failed to take the high ball, No 8 Rhys Davies scored from close range when they went back for the penalty. At half-time, the score read a lopsided: GHA 0-33 Currie Chieftains.
Premiership Match Reports 07/09/19:
Although the second half started in much the same way as the first, errors started to creep into Currie’s play. In particular, their line-out started to go awry, and GHA finally gave the home crowd something to cheer when replacement Ruairi O’Keefe scored in at the left following a period of composed possession and pressure. Could a comeback of Twickenham proportions be on, as the stadium announcer so hoped?
Unfortunately for GHA, the answer was an emphatic no. Scott got himself on the scoresheet with only a few minutes remaining, just reward for a real captain’s performance.
With time almost up, GHA try-scorer O’Keefe, who had earlier been pinged for a bit of back-chat to the ref, saw yellow for a late hit on Hunter. Despite this, the 14 men of GHA did have the final say when scrum-half Andrew Gillman scored with the last play of the game after a sumptuous offload by GHA captain Jamie McCarthy.
“Obviously it’s our first experience of Premiership rugby for a while, but to be honest Currie came out the blocks really well and blew us away with some great rugby,” reflected GHA coach Trevor Carmichael. “There was some stern words said at half-time, we changed a few things and one of our goals was to win the second-half and show what we can do as a team.”
Victorious captain and strong contender for man-of-the-match, Fergus Scott, was obviously delighted with the five points “First half I thought we played some outstanding attacking rugby and we were very clinical at times,” he said. “To be fair to GHA, they were always going to have their time on the ball, they made it tough for us, but we got a bit loose in the second-half. All in all I think, a lot more positives than negatives, and we just have to kick on from there and learn from those negatives.”
GHA: G Mollison; A Scott, C Lonergan, A Hamilton Potter, A Purewal; C King, A Gillman; T Brogan, L Barron, S Fisher, A Barnett, J McCarthy, S Plumridge, D Ewing, M Marinkovic. Subs: E Cavan , S Carson, L McCutcheon , R O’Keefe, J Craig.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; S Hamilton, A Hall, A Harley, A MacLean; G Hunter, C Lessels; G Carson, F Scott, M Sonzogni Argiro, M Poole, M Vernel, J O’Brien, D Dee, R Davies. Subs: G Williamson, C Ramsay, H Ferguson, W Nelson, J Patterson.
Referee: Ian Kenny
GHA: Tries: O’Keefe, Gillman; Cons: Scott 2.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Brett, Argiro, Poole, Hamilton, Davies, Scott; Cons: Hunter 4.
Scoring Sequence (Chieftains first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 0-17; 0-19; 0-24; 0-26; 0-31; 0-33 (h-t) 5-33; 7-33; 7-38; 12-38; 14-38.
Yellow Cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Chieftains’ back division all shone, but winger Steven Hamilton, particularly in the first-half, was bouncing off defenders for fun, and if he had an Opta tracker on would easily have made three-digits in terms of metres made with ball in hand.
Talking Point: The stern words at half-time from coaches Carmichael and James Eddie certainly did the job, and GHA’s early baptism of fire may stand them in good stead for the rest of the season. At first they seemed startled by the level of physicality, but certainly pulled their socks up and went toe-to-toe with Cheiftains in that second period.