Currie Chieftains 34
IAIN HAY @ Fullarton Park
AS was the case when this table topping duo met back in round two of this Premiership campaign, it was a first-half blitz from Mark Cairns’ Currie which saw them take the victory and assert their dominance at the top of the pile.
“We’re good starters, we’ve done that most of the season, we were 21-0 up at half-time against Selkirk last week and we come out the blocks real quickly,” said the victorious head coach.
“We said it didn’t matter if we were playing into the wind or against the wind, just get out the blocks quick. We have some really good players who put some really good phases together. It’s frustrating because we get a bit complacent – we’re striving for that 80-minute performance – but it does become difficult when you get so far ahead to keep focus and to keep the structure which got you there in the first place.
“Credit to Marr for coming back into it,” he added. “They had a big crowd here so they’ll be disappointed with the way they started, but they did really well to stick in and got that bonus point, so they’ll pleased with that outcome after the first half.”
Currie opened the scoring early doors and by the time we were a quarter of the way into the match they were scoring at the rate of approximately a point a minute.
Sean Fisher was the first to put some numbers on the board after scrum-half Ryan Southern’s sniping-eye had found a gap which took his team deep into Marr’s half. Then Southern’s half-back partner Gregor Hunter took the reins to carve Marr open, which gave Joe Reynolds the space and time for an easy run in.
Marr were frustrated not to strike back soon after when Rory Jackson was stopped inches short of the line, and with Currie finding space in the wide channels far too easily, they soon turned possession into territory, and territory into points.
As Currie surged down the left, Charlie Brett kicked ahead with only Calum Inglis defending deep. The Marr man’s kick to touch didn’t go far, and soon James McCaig was touching down in the opposite corner after the line-out had been completed.
Hunter knocked over a penalty before his opposite number Colin Sturgeon showed how desperate Marr needed back into this game with a quick tap-and-go penalty from halfway, rather than going for the touchlines. Sturgeon got himself isolated, Marr were penalised for side entry at the ruck as they tried to clear out, allowing clinical Currie to take hold of possession and they were soon celebrating their bonus point try through lock Rhys Davies.
Fraser Grant pulled one back for the hosts as the half drew to a close, but it already looked like a mountain too high to climb.
That mountain peak grew even higher at the start of the second half when McCaig claimed an easy run-in for his double after yet more good awareness and link work by Hunter, only for Marr to start clawing their way back into the match.
First, Blair Jardine crossed from the back of a maul, then replacement Iosefo Turaga went on a weaving sideways run which didn’t make too much ground towards the line but did create a bit of chaos and disorder in the Currie line, allowing Jamie Shedden to dummy a pass out wide then glide over the line himself.
Playing with desperation, and no lack of skill on a bitterly breezy day in South Ayrshire, Marr scored a terrific fourth try with five minutes to go through Scott Bickerstaff, following some free-flowing, offloading rugby, creating the chance for one of the greatest of great escapes.
Alas, Sturgeon’s conversion attempt didn’t bend enough to dissect the sticks, nor could they add to their tally meaning that they had to settle for a solitary bonus point on their own patch.
“We came back in the second half but, to be fair, the game was done by then, really … until the last ten minutes when we’re only two scores from winning it, which was a bit strange,” mused Marr head coach Craig Redpath.
“We missed a number of tackles, especially round the fringes. At one point in the first half, they’d been in our 22 three times, we’d been in theirs three and the score was 19-0 to them.
“It’s tough. We’ll watch the video to see what went wrong and take it from there, but it’s disappointing we didn’t get going early on.
“We stepped in a few times and allowed them to play. When we played with tempo we caused them a few problems, but I think they dropped off a wee bit. They were sharp from the start. Currie are, by far, the best team we’ve played.”
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Marr: C Inglis; J Shedden, S Bickerstaff, M O’Sullivan, J Scott; C Sturgeon, S Broad; B Sweet, B Jardine, W Farquhar, R Jackson, F Grant, M Pearce, J Drummond, R Brown. Subs: C McMillan, C Miller, J McLean, G Montgomery, I Turaga.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, J Reynolds, DJ Innes, A Hall; G Hunter, R Southern; G Carson, S Fisher, G Scougall, H Ferguson, R Davies, G Nelson, F Scott©, W Nelson. Subs: R Stewart, AP McWilliam, E Stewart, J Forbes, P Boyer.
Referee: David Sutherland.
Marr: Tries: Grant, Jardine, Shedden, Bickerstaff; Cons: Sturgeon 2.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Fisher, Reynolds, McCaig 2, Davies; Pens: Hunter; Cons: Hunter 4.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 0-17; 0-19; 0-22; 0-27; 5-27; 7-27 (h-t) 7-32; 7-34; 12-34; 14-34; 19-34; 21-34; 26-34.
Man-of-the-Match: This could’ve gone to either of the starting Currie half-backs, but Gregor Hunter will edge it for dictating the play for the full 80, while live-wire Southern was replaced after 50 minutes
Talking Point: Having helped put Currie into a commanding position, when Ryan Southern was replaced it was with former Glasgow Hawks starting No9 Paddy Boyer, which really highlights the strength in depth the table toppers have. As it currently stands, it could be a procession rather than a race to the title.