Currie Chieftains 50
Glasgow Hawks 20
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
DUE to this being a rearranged fixture, it is just seven days since these two clubs last tangoed together; Currie finishing four point victors in Hawks’ own backyard on that occasion.
But a week is a long time in sport, as someone almost said, and this game proved a somewhat different proposition with Currie back at Malleny, and in dry, if windy, conditions that favoured their Barbarian style of running rugby. The home side ended up winning comfortably, eight tries to three, but only after enduring a sticky opening 30 minutes.
“We were playing into a very strong first half wind,” coach Mark Cairns excused his side’s slow start. “I think there was a turning point in that game where we were defending in our own 22. We turned over a defensive line-out and then went up the other end, got our own line-out and ended up scoring. I was happy with the fact that we were clinical and took most of our chances today.”
The match actually kicked off a little late since the referee thought it was a 3 pm start. Hawks enjoyed the wind at their backs in the opening 40 and they showed grit and skill to score two good tries and a penalty in the first half, only for the home team to score three touchdowns against the elements, and another five in the second half when this game ran away from the visitors.
For Hawks, the twin centres of Jos McConkey and James Pinkerton were impressive, the former a gain-line bully who just needed someone to anticipate the carnage he would cause and get onto his shoulder for the pass.
Teenage scrum-half James Imrie is growing with every game he plays for Hawks, while both full-backs, James Couper and Charlie Brett, had a ding dong battle to see who could counter attack from the most inappropriate place on the field.
The entire game was played at helter-skelter pace with bags of ambition; game management was noticeable mostly through its absence and the contest was all the more entertaining because of it.
Currie’s South African fly-half Callum Beckett was on debut and the 20-year-old looked the part, especially considering he is only just back playing again after major knee surgery.
The Currie front-row dominated the set scrums and the backs enjoyed the use of a dry ball, and plenty of it to carve up the opposition, even if they had to wait until the second half to do so.
Just like last weekend, Currie opened the scoring early on, a maul try going to hooker Ryan Stewart after seven minutes, and just like last weekend, Hawks fought back with a couple of excellent scores to show they weren’t happy just making up numbers.
The visitors’ first touchdown went to lock Max Crumlish, who picked a wonderful line to break through Currie’s defence and the last defender had no chance of halting the big lump’s progress to the line.
Just four minutes later and Hawks took the lead in much the same way. A line-out on the left, a couple of forwards bashing it up the middle and, this time, full-back Couper picked another brilliant line with his pace taking him all the way to the left hand corner.
Visiting fly-half David McCartney managed the first conversion and added a penalty as Currie carried their indiscipline over from last Saturday to give Hawks a 15-7 advantage; not that they had long to savour it.
Currie fought back and, perhaps for the first time in the game, held onto the ball for several long phases that ended in left winger Ryan Daley stepping inside the last two defenders to grab his team’s second try, and No 8 Sam Cardosi scored their third in the exact same spot just before the break as belief flooded back into the home team and, for that matter, the home fans with a 17-15 lead and the second half wind at their backs.
Enjoyed this article? Quality journalism like ours is made possible by readers like you. If you value our in-depth coverage of Scottish rugby at all levels and want to see more, please consider supporting us with a subscription or donation. It helps us keep delivering the news you love. Thank you for being a part of The Offside Line community!
Currie started the second half as they finished the first, with a try, their fourth and a bonus point, This one coming from an attacking line-out and awarded to lock Courtney West.
Hawks were on the back foot for most, if not quite all, of the second half, but they showed glimpses of what they might achieve if they could add a sprinkling of consistency to all their other merits. Twice in quick succession replacement winger Ryan Flett did brilliant work, only to undermine all his good work.
First he took an inside pass to carve open Currie and turn defence into attack only to cough up possession in contact which West put to good use.
A little later the burly winger brushed off the last two Currie defenders like he was swatting flies only to see Gregor Christie knock the ball from his grasp over the try-line having done all the hard work.
Almost inevitably, as is the way with these things, after Hawks butchered two brilliant opportunities, Currie were ruthless at the other end of the field.
A kick to the corner, a few attacking phases and a tiring Hawks’ defence left a hole that far slower fly-halfs than the fleet-footed Beckett would get through.
Now the floodgates opened. Home hooker Stewart enjoyed a blast up the middle of the field, scattering tacklers like a latter day Jonah Lomu. The home side won a penalty, went to the corner and the same man burrowed over for his second try, Currie’s sixth of the afternoon. Then DJ Innes skipped past a couple of despairing tackles to claim the seventh.
In a rare sortie into enemy territory, Hawks got one back, thanks to replacement hooker JP Thomson, but normal service was soon resumed.
Cardosi thought he had scored again only for the touchie to raise his flag but it wasn’t long before replacement Euan Crombie grabbed Currie’s eighth, under the posts, directly off a set scrum.
“The first half performance is where we want to be,” said Hawks skipper Paul Cairncross. who readily conceded that playing Currie back to back was a tough ask for anyone.
“We know we can compete with the best in the league but we just need to do so on a more consistent basis,” he continued. “We are not good at managing momentum shifts and there was a big one when they scored three tries either side of half time.
“I don’t think the boys’ heads are down, we will keep fighting.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, DJ Innes, G Christie, J McCaig; C Beckett, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, G Carson, A Bain, C West, K Steel, R Vucago, S Cardosi. Subs used: T Jeffrey, S Fisher, J Ramsay, C Lessels, E Crombie.
Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; H Provan, J Pinkerton, J McConkey, S Graham; D McCartney, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross, E Cairns, M Crumlish, H McLeod, S Halafili, R Howie, L Stewart. Subs used: J Thomson, F Muir, B Skinner, W Burrows, R Flett.
Referee: Sam O’Neil
Currie Chieftains: Try: Stewart 2, Daley, Cardosi, West, Innes, Beckett, Crombie; Cons: Brett 5.
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Crumlish, Couper, Thomson; Con: McCartney; Pen: McCartney.
Sequence of scoring (Currie first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 7-12; 7-15; 12-15; 17-15 (h-t) 22-15; 24-15; 29-15; 34-15; 36-15; 41-15; 41-20; 43-20; 48-20; 50-20.
Talking point: Currie fly-half Callum Beckett was on debut and it is something of a miracle that the young South African is even on a rugby field after suffering a horrible knee injury that saw him sidelined for almost 18 months. He not only looked fully fit but quick and dangerous to boot. Welcome back fella!