Premiership: Currie Chieftains bounce back after rocky start versus Musselburgh

Kody McGovern scores his second hat-trick in as many weeks

Cody Roman on the charge for Currie Chieftains versus Musselburgh. Image: John Durham
Cody Roman on the charge for Currie Chieftains versus Musselburgh. Image: John Durham

Musselburgh 27

Currie Chieftains 53

DAVID BARNES @ Stoneyhill

FROM 17-0 down with just under 20 minutes played, Currie Chieftains showed their championship credentials by battling back to secure a comfortable win over a dogged Musselburgh outfit without really getting close to what they would consider their peak performance level.

This was a tough one to take for the hosts, but they should draw comfort and confidence from having stuck to their task until the end in order to secure a four-try bonus point, as they look ahead to another daunting 80 minutes away to Hawick next weekend.

Afterwards, victorious head coach Mark Cairns reflected on the value of learning how to win games the hard way.

“Funnily enough, I was talking to the boys before the game about the need to be resilient if things don’t go according to plan, because too many times last year we found ourselves in a situation like that and we didn’t actually enjoy the challenge,” he said.  “Instead, we tended to get more and more frustrated, and we generally managed to scrape the win but not learn much from it. So, I said the challenge for us is that if we find ourselves in that situation then that is something to embrace, and I think we did that. I was really pleased with how the boy turned it round.

“I didn’t think we were very slick. I think we made a lot of mistakes. Even once we got back in front, I don’t think we had a very good game with too many passes dropped. I felt we were winning the collisions but still trying to chuck into space so it is about recognising where we are doing well and adapting to that,” he added.


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For opposite number Derek O’Riordan, there was mixed emotions, with pride tempered by frustration that his team didn’t manage to kick-on after that positive start to claim a scalp which would have sent a shockwave through the league.

“We started really well to go 17-0 up, and then we conceded the first of their tries and psychologically I think it drifted into our minds that the inevitable was going to happen, rather than realising that we are still 17-8 up and it is about turning the screw to apply the pressure back on them,” said O’Riordan. “I think the defensive intensity we brought in the first 20 minutes started to drop off when disbelief started to creep-in, and Currie rode the tail-end of that momentum swing so fair play to them for doing that.

“I don’t think there was a capitulation, and once we managed to get our hands back in the game we gave Currie a fairly good arm-wrestle towards the end of the second-half.

“At the start of the season, f you’d offered me two bonus points from the first two league games against the top two from last year, I would have bitten our hand off. The disappointment is that when you see the second half against Marr, and the first 20 minutes and spells of the second half here, we’re as good as any team, but we don’t have that consistency over 80 minutes and the confidence to go out there believing we can put the opposition away.”

 

Musselburgh opened the scoring with less than two minutes played when winger Calum Marshall hacked forward a loose Chieftains pass then did well to gather and stretch over the line under pressure from Adam Hall. Danny Owenson slotted the conversion and then did so again when Cammy Meager and Jamie Forbes tried to force their team back onto the front foot off scrappy line-out ball and instead coughed up possession which allowed home No 8 Luke Hutson to force his way over.

By this point, Chieftains had also been rocked by the loss of hooker Sean Fisher, who was clearly in considerable distress while his suspected dislocated knee-cap was treated on the pitch for 10 minutes before he was stretchered off.

Twice during the opening quarter, Chieftains engineered clean line-breaks and on both occasions it looked like it would be harder not to score than to score, but Charlie Brett held onto the ball a touch too long and Kody McGovern couldn’t gather the pass off his hip when it eventually came his way, and then the galloping Cody Roman‘s pass was too high for the supporting James McCaig.

An offside penalty kicked by Owenson pushed Musselburgh’s tally up to 17 points, before Chieftains finally troubled the scoreboard operator with a Forbes penalty, which was soon followed by a McCaig try after Brett had run the ball back from deep.

Brett played a crucial role in Currie’s next try, too, kicking ahead for the blistering fast McGovern to chase down and score, and then skipper Graeme Carson muscled over on 36 minutes to force the visitors into a half-time lead.

 

Meager wriggled through some slack midfield defence to score the bonus point try for the visitors early in the second half, then Forbes kicked a holding-on penalty, but Musselburgh weren’t for throwing in the towel and Neil McNairn scored their third try soon after his arrival off the bench.

Currie re-established their dominance with three tries in fairly quick succession. McGovern showcased his pace again with an electrifying break for his second, Brett’s excellent pop from the deck sent Roman over, and McGovern crossed for his third after Mike Vernel (making a welcome return after two years of injury misery) made good ground of Musselburgh’s wayward restart.

Despite playing the last 10 minutes with 14 men due to second-row Jack Haynes being in the sin-bin, Musselburgh dug deep and secured a well-deserved bonus point when Lochie Milne powered over for the final try of the contest.

It doesn’t get much easier for Musselburgh, who are at Mansfield Park to take on Hawick next weekend, while Chieftains are gearing up for a mouthwatering encounter against Edinburgh Accies at Malleny.

 

Teams –

Musselburgh: J Ferguson; C Marshall, F Thomson, R Watt, S Watt; M McMillan, D Owenson; R Hanning, B Stott, C Arthur, L Milne, J Haynes, C Pryde, M Crawford, L Hutson. Subs: F Duraj, N McNairn, L Henderson, F Call, T Foley.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; K McGovern, J McCaig, A Hall, C Meager; J Forbes, P Boyer; G Carson, S Fisher, C Ramsay, A McCallum, C Roman, J Duncan, G Nelson, A MacLean. Subs: R Stewart, A Cameron, J O’Brien, M Vernel, S Leto.

Referee: Tom French

 

Scorers –

Musselburgh: Tries: Marshall, Hutson, McNairn, Milne; Con: Owenson 2; Pen: Owenson.

Currie Chieftains: Tries: McCaig, McGovern 3, Carson, Meager, Roman; Con: Forbes 4, Leto 2; Pen: Forbes 2

Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 1-0; 14-0; 17-0; 17-3; 17-8; 17-13; 17-15; 17-20; 17-22 (h-t) 17-27; 17-29; 17-32; 22-32; 22-37; 22-39; 22-44; 22-46; 22-51; 22-53.

 

Yellow cards –

Musselburgh: Haynes (70mins)

 

Player-of-the-Match: Chieftains winger Kody McGovern scored a hat-trick of tries but didn’t get the gong last week. He repeated the trick here and it would be harsh to overlook him again. He’s lightening quick and with a change of direction like a flash of lightning.

Talking point: It has been a tough old start to the season for Musselburgh, and if they can manage another bonus point at Hawick next week then three points from three matches would be a decent haul


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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.