Currie Chieftains 61
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS went top of the Premiership table with this convincing, overwhelming, crushing defeat of Musselburgh on a Malleny Park that was surprisingly firm given the Biblical downpour that had blighted central Scotland in the days leading up to this match. Credit goes to the groundsman Ivor Santer for his diligence and hard work.
The hosts scored nine tries in all with a dominant display of running rugby that was especially impressive given the wet ball. Goodness only knows how many they might have scored on a dry track. At one point early in the game the Musselburgh skipper could be heard warning his team that it would be a “fifty pointer” unless his players pulled up their socks up … he should be so lucky.
“I think they were missing a good few players,” said Currie skipper Fergus Scott after the final whistle. “We were pretty clinical in attack although we left a few scores out there I was pretty happy with how we played.
“The discipline in defence was good and the most pleasing thing from my perspective was keeping them to nil.”
The visitors actually played pretty well in the opening quarter, tackling like they meant it with good carries from the likes of inside centre Rory Watt and loosehead prop Duncan Hodge, who only started this game as a late replacement but lasted the course much better than most of colleagues, still carrying at the death.
Musselburgh’s scrum did a job but the line-out was a mixed bag and they were roasted at the breakdown. The visitors also stubbornly refused to use the wind at their backs in the first half and instead insisted on running the ball from all corners with the little scrum-half Danny Owenson opting for height rather than length on his clearance kicks from the base. It cost them.
Currie opened the scoring with a try on 13 minutes after Musselburgh full-back Rory Hindhaugh was caught in possession and stripped of the ball near his own line before home lock Hamish Ferguson bulldozed over from short range.
Just to underline that it wasn’t going to be their day Musselburgh missed a regulation penalty on the 20 minute mark and that proved the warning shot that Currie needed.
The home side hit their straps scoring four tries in an eight minute purple patch from 27-35 minutes when Currie’s all round excellence in attack proved totally unstoppable.
Gregor Hunter is a class act and he pulled the strings expertly at fly-half, teasing the Musselburgh defence before firing the ball across the back line to find the inevitable gap. He used the boot but only to convert all those tries, ending with seven from eight with the final conversion going to Adam Hall.
The floodgates were opened by Scott after Hunter rounded a stranded Musselburgh front-row forward on the opposition 22 before sending his skipper under the posts with a well timed inside pass.
Currie only had high field position from which to score thanks to Musselburgh’s insistence on running the ball out of defence, centre Lucas Brook lost the ball in contact, when they might have been better playing some territory.
Currie scored again, straight from the kick off with the best try of the match. Scott straightened the attack beautifully and the ball went out-in-out before winger Steven Hamilton found acres of space on the left flank.
The bonus point fourth try went to centre DJ Innes after some less than convincing defence allowed the centre far more space than he deserved. It was only awarded after the referee took advice from touchie, international whistler Mike Adamason. The fifth went to fellow centre Ryan Southern with the tackling, again, notable mostly by its absence.
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At 35-0 the match was over at half time, even if Currie’s inability to finish off two open goals in the third quarter gave Musselburgh and the poor fella manning the score board a momentary respite before normal service was resumed ten minutes into the second half. Southern grabbed his second, and Currie’s sixth, after nipping round the edge of the breakdown having moved to scrum-half.
He was followed by replacement Joe Reynolds, who got on the end of a long flowing move and Hunter finally sliced a conversion, at the seventh attempt. Southern and Scott combined to create Currie’s eighth try, and Reynolds ran over one poor defender to grab the ninth inside the final ten minutes to complete Musselburgh’s misery.
Did anyone really benefit from such a one-sided contest, Musselburgh coach Graeme Paterson was asked?
“Yes, I think so,” he replied. “It gives us a baseline of where we want to be. We want to be operating at the same level as Currie although it seems a big ask right now.
“Also it makes us think: ‘I don’t like that and I don’t want that to happen again’.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, R Southern, DJ Innes, S Hamilton; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson, S Fisher, G Scougall, H Ferguson, R Davies, G Nelson, F Scott, W Nelson. Replacements: R Stewart, AP McWilliam, S Edwards, J Reynolds, A Hall.
Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, L Brook, R Watt, G Tait; M McMillan, D Owenson; C Owenson, R Gregor, C Lamberton, J Haynes, K Watt, C Pryde, M Crawford, J Lister. Replacements: D Hodge, D Slaven, L Hudson, L Kotze, F Thomson.
Referee: Neil Muir.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Ferguson, Scott 2, Hamilton, Innes, Southern 2, Reynolds 2; Cons: Hunter 7, Hall.
Musselburgh: No scorers.
Sequence of scoring (Currie first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 21-0; 26-0; 28-0; 33-0; 35-0 (h-t) 40-0; 42-0; 47-0; 52-0; 54-0; 59-0; 61-0.
Yellow Cards –
Currie Chieftains: Rhys Davies (70mins)
Musselburgh: Danny Owenson (70mins)
Man-of-the-Match: It’s a tricky one because so many Chieftains showed up well in what was a horribly one-sided contest. Both centres DJ Innes and Ryan Southern played well and got themselves on the scoresheet, as did replacement Joe Reynolds. Fly-half Gregor Hunter barely put a foot wrong as Currie’s attack sliced open the opposition at will, but flanker Fergus Scott is the heartbeat and the conscience of this side and he was hugely influential throughout.
Talking Point: Although down and out on the scoreboard it seems like Musselburgh’s fighting spirit remains intact after replacement Danny Slaven showed aggressive defiance at a breakdown, before Rhys Davies and Danny Owenson were shown yellow cards late in the game for scrapping on the floor. What doesn’t kill Musselburgh will make them stronger.