Currie Chieftains 37
Heriot’s Blues 32
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS held off a spirited Heriot’s Blues side to take all five league points in a fabulous game of rugby that remained in the balance right to the final whistle. A late rally by the Goldenacre men ensured they took two bonus points, although it could have been more. Both sides deserve credit for playing adventurous rugby, although neither team was entirely happy with their performance.
In the home camp, Mark Cairns, the coach, pointed to the injury problems that have prevented him from selecting a settled side, saying, “We have had over 40 players have played this season,” he said. “Mike Vernel has played 140 times and the combined total for all the other forwards including the subs is 129. We’ve got some key guys to get back, so in that sense we are happy with the win and five points.”
However, while it is satisfying for him to continue winning while being forced to draw on his full squad, there were aspects of the performance that displeased him. “There’s some basic stuff out there that anybody playing for the team should be able to do. We let ourselves down,” he added. “It was just not getting the head up and reading the play, not being there for each other. We need to have a serious look at our defence. We are conceding too many points.”
Heriot’s assistant Jamie Parker had reason to be happy with the gutsy effort of his men, but he also felt that it was a missed opportunity.
“We’re disappointed not to get more out of it,” he admitted. “We asked for a bit more from the boys and that’s what they gave us. There was a couple of crucial things, like them scoring just after half-time, but the boys kept in the game. Last week we let Marr get ahead of us and stay ahead, this week we showed fight and we had a chance with the last play to potentially win it. We just need to keep on building from that and pick up a few wins before the end of the season.”
This was the latest sign of improvement by a Blues side that has recovered from a shaky opening few weeks of the campaign. They started well on this occasion and deservedly opened the scoring with five minutes played when Graham Wilson stroked over a 25 metre penalty from in front of the posts. The visitors extended their lead with some smart thinking by Paul Christie, who picked out the unmarked Noah Henry with a perfectly weighted kick, allowing the winger to finish off in the corner.
Heriot’s continued to press and it took a last-ditch tackle by Gregor Christie on his namesake Paul to prevent the deficit rising into double figures. Having defused that threat, Christie instigated Chieftains’ first visit to the opposition 22 as the first quarter drew to a close with a dummy and chip ahead, but Iain Kay mopped up the kick and cleared the danger.
Greg Cannie was next to have a go at the Blues defence, breaking from deep and feeding to Cairn Ramsay, whose thundering run created the platform for swiftly transferred ball that passed through three pairs of hands to Ryan Southern, who plunged over. Sam Leto banged over the conversion to leave a single-point deficit.
Chieftains snatched the lead after half an hour when they opted for touch with a penalty that was within kicking range. That decision paid off with a clever move that saw Kyle Steel pass back to Ryan Stewart, allowing the hooker to dart down the touchline to score.
Heriot’s struck back immediately when, from a penalty booted into touch, Innes Hill gathered and sparked a slick move that ended with Kay going in at the corner to leave the visitors a point ahead at the break, although it should have been more after they failed to capitalise on a string of penalties that saw home prop Chris Anderson yellow carded for collapsing a maul.
Chieftains capitalised on having survived that spell of pressure when they seized back the initiative within a minute of the restart. Cannie was the creator, hurtling down the left flank then offloading to Iain Sim, who dotted down for an unconverted score.
The gap grew to seven points when Adam Hall booted a penalty. Chieftains were now in control, and had the bonus point try in their sights. It came after 56 minutes when Ramsay found himself in space 30 metres from the line and shunted the final defender out of the way before crashing over between the sticks to leave Hall a simple conversion.
Heriot’s struck back when Kay sprinted past two opponents and carried play into the home 22 where he fed Henry who raced in for his second score. Wilson converted. That sparked another period of Heriot’s pressure which saw Craig Robertson thwarted just short of the line. However, the league’s top scorer was not to be denied, and he appeared in midfield to take a pass and carve through the home defence for an unconverted bonus point score.
Having seen Chieftains surrender a lead late in the previous game, the Malleny supporters were becoming a little twitchy, but the players reacted positively with a move that started around halfway and ended, several passes later, with Hall crossing for try number five.
Hall was just wide with the conversion, meaning Heriot’s remained on course for two bonus points. However, Chieftains raised the pace and it took an outstanding defensive effort to keep them at bay until the ball was fired out to Cammy Meager who went over in the corner.
Heriot’s were not yet done and they were rewarded for their spirit with another try. Kay was again the creator, sprinting into opposition territory and freeing Ross Thomson who showed his pace to finish off the move. Wilson’s successful conversion offered fresh optimism for the visitors and Robertson almost caught the defence napping when he picked up and set off at pace. But he was collared just short and Chieftains held out for the win.
Currie Chieftains: G Cannie; R Daley, R Southern, A Hall, I Sim; S Leto, G Christie; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, J O’Brien, E Stewart, K Steel, J Duncan, M Vernel©. Subs: A Steel, J Ramsay, J Donaghue, P Boyer, C Meager.
Heriot’s Blues: I Kay; N Henry, P Christie, R Kay©, C Robertson; R Carmichael, G Wilson; J Lascelles, D Dineen, S Cessford, S Johnstone, L Gordon, A Johnston, I Hill, C Anderson. Subs: M Toward, A Bogle, M Keough, R Thomson, G Kirkpatrick.
Referee: Ciaran Stark
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Southern, Stewart, Sim, C Ramsay, Hall, Meager; Cons: Leto, Hall; Pen: Hall.
Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Henry 2, I Kay, Robertson, Thomson; Cons: Wilson 2; Pen: Wilson.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 0-3; 0-8; 5-8; 7-8; 12-8; 12-13 (h-t) 17-13; 20-13; 25-13; 27-13; 27-18; 27-20; 27-25; 32-25; 37-25; 37-30; 37-32.
Yellow cards –
Currie Chieftains: Anderson
Man-of-the-Match: There were big contributors on both sides, but none was more evident than Cairn Ramsay whose efforts in open play made him stand-out. He capped an outstanding effort with an excellent try.
Talking point: Chieftains played well during the regular season last year and came up short in the play-offs. Perhaps the return of key men for the remainder of the season will mean a reversal of fortunes this time.