Currie Chieftains 38
Aberdeen Grammar 14
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
IT never rains but it pours. Malleny Park is a daunting venue at the best of times and it proved a veritable Mont Blanc for an Aberdeen team that is now zero from six this season and desperately short on confidence.
Sure enough, Currie walked away with the bonus-point win after claiming the opening try in short order, adding another five touchdowns before the final whistle put the visitors out of their misery.
“We played some good stuff in the first half but failed to kick on after the break which was disappointing,” said Currie’s Ally Donaldson. “We conceded too many penalties after the break and struggled to understand the referee’s interpretation to be honest. It made for a stop/start second half that probably wasn’t that enjoyable to watch.
This weekend’s other Premiership reports:
“Fair play to Aberdeen, who showed great spirit and hunger all afternoon. It would have been easy to fold but they fought to the end.”
Indeed Aberdeen played pretty well but only, like the curate’s egg, in patches and their poor execution in near perfect conditions was at the root of many problems, especially at the line-out, which was a shambles.
They are only slowly acclimatising to the pace of the game in the Premiership: Grammar tend to play in third gear while most of the teams find fourth or even fifth from time to time. They are visibly improving but it is hard work getting your backside skelped every Saturday afternoon and it seemed like Chieftains could up the ante almost at will.
After going behind to a soft score, as Currie centre Ryan Southern stepped off his right foot and touched down under the posts, Grammar hitched up their britches and applied themselves, spending long stretches inside the Chieftains half.
They earned three attacking line-outs in the first quarter of this match but it wasn’t until the third throw that they managed to secure possession and, with the ball finally in hand, they also proved their mauling game was in good fettle.
At least Aberdeen had an edge in the set scrum, in the first half if not the second, which was used to good effect, and they enjoyed their fair share of territory. But only rarely did they look like scoring – although some credit goes to Currie’s swarming defence, which was impressively resilient and focused.
Discipline proved a problem for Grammar as flanker Glen Robertson saw yellow after 11 minutes for a dangerous tip tackle. The little seven was the smallest man on the field but he made all his tackles as Currie broke the first line of defence far too easily.
Aberdeen’s full-back, Ross Cameron looked lively throughout, coming close to scoring in the right-hand corner after a smart miss-pass from scrummy Ali Addy. But when the try eventually came it was courtesy of the big men and some quick thinking from Addy. The Grammar pack squeezed a penalty from an attacking scrum and Addy tapped and dived for the line before the Currie defence woke up to the threat.
Sadly for the visitors, Currie had already banked their second score after a breakout sparked by centre DJ Innes and finished off by replacement winger Fraser Sayers in the left-hand corner. In fact the replacement was something of a revelation off the bench as he scored his second, Currie’s third, before the break, stepping off his left wing and showing everyone a clean pair of heels as he scorched under the posts.
There was still time for Currie’s bonus-point fourth try before half-time, this one going to hooker Ryan Stewart, just deserts for his aggressive carrying throughout. Fly-half Adam Hall converted four from five to give Currie a 26-7 lead at the break.
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The second half provided just three tries compared to the five in the first half and was less of a spectacle all round. Aberdeen butchered high field position with their inability to win their own throw at the sidelines, not for the first time, and Currie should have scored their fifth try only for centre Southern to spill a pass from Paddy Boyer he wasn’t expecting.
The Malleny faithful didn’t have tolong to wait, however, as hooker Stewart showed great athleticism to grab his second around the 50-minute mark.
Grammar were helped in the third quarter by Currie indiscipline and the visitors deserved their second try of the afternoon around the hour mark when replacement Patrick Mulholland muscled his way over from short range after numerous penalties gave the visitors their attacking position.
The relief was short-lived. Currie struck back five minutes later as Southern picked a line between two defenders who, between them, failed to lay a finger on the centre as he waltzed over the try line. It proved, to Grammar’s relief, the last points of the afternoon.
“We attacked with some structure, which has been lacking in the last few weeks,” said Aberdeen coach Ali O’Connor. “And we stuck in to the very end, the bench was full of wounded soldiers, so we can’t complain about the attitude.
“But a lack of accuracy in defence and in attack cost us the game, and Currie competed hard at the breakdown which made life difficult for us.”
And what about that miss-firing lineout? “It is just one of the many things we are working on during the week.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meagher, R Southern, DJ Innes, J McCaig; A Hall, P Boyer; AP McWilliam, R Stewart, G Scougall, R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott (capt), W Nelson. Replacements: G Carson, C Ramsay, C Roman, F Sayers.
Aberdeen Grammar: R Cameron; N Brown, D Russell, T Aplin (capt), C Shepherd; S Knudson, A Addy; R Anderson, B Inglis, M Schosser, C Walker, J Robertson, G Ryan, G Robertson, C Buchan. Replacements: L Buchan, P Mulholland, S Renfrew, B Renton, P Richie.
Referee: Neil Muir.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Southern 2, Sayers 2, Stewart 2; Cons: Hall 4.
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Addy, Mulholland; Cons: Aplin 2.
Scoring sequence (Currie first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 14-7; 19-7; 21-7; 26-7 (h-t) 31-7; 31-12; 31-14; 36-14; 38-14.
Man of the match: There were any number of candidates from the Currie ranks although it would be nice to see how Aberdeen’s fly-half Sam Knudsden would fare behind the Currie pack. Ryans Southern and Stewart both claimed a brace but so too did Fraser Sayers and he managed the feat off the bench and with some aplomb to win this award.
Moment of the match: The match was delayed by a minute or two as the referee shed his yellow shirt, a clash with Currie, and found a Giro D’Italia pink instead.