Currie Chieftains 46
Heriot’s Blues 5
GARY HEATLY @ Malleny Park
SIX tries in the first half set Currie Chieftains up for this comfortable bonus point victory over Heriot’s Blues to maintain their perfect start to this season. The rampant hosts had the four try bonus point in the bag after 28 minutes and they were 41-5 up by the break at Malleny Park.
At that point, Heriot’s, who had started the day second in the table, had a man in the sin-bin and it looked like things might get very ugly in the second period as it was all one-way traffic.
As it was, the second half did not rate highly for entertainment value and only five more points were added, but the first half certainly had been entertaining with Currie a joy to watch when in full flow.
They are top of the table with 20 points from 20 ahead of a tasty trip to Mansfield Park to play Hawick next weekend and head coach Mark Cairns said: “It was a really pleasing first half, we played really well and stuck to our shape and there were lots of options within that shape.
“Our execution and decision making was excellent and we were really disciplined in our approach. Heriot’s were missing a few boys, but we were focused on ourselves and I feel that it was our best performance of the season so far.
“Things tailed off a bit after the break, but the effort from the boys throughout was top notch and with a couple of guys set to be coming back next week as a coaching team we have some positive coaching headaches to deal with as a lot of players are putting their hands up just now.”
The hosts started swiftly and a good break from scrum-half Cameron Lessels got them into the Heriot’s 22. They then had a scrum penalty five metres out from the try line and, after getting go forward, a couple of phases later back-row Sam Cardosi went over from short range for a try. It was converted by full-back Charlie Brett, on his 50th appearance, and the hosts were 7-0 up.
That was in the fifth minute and then, in the eighth minute, Brett kicked a penalty to make it 10-0.
Heriot’s had to get into things, and quickly, and good work from skipper Ali Johnston and a strong break from back-row Sam Wallace got them inside Chieftains’ territory for the first time.
A neat cross-field kick from stand-off Dan Tomanek then looked to set up Paul Christie and the winger did a neat job of scooping the ball up and scoring a try out wide. Tomanek could not convert and it was 10-5.
That score just seemed to aggravate Currie because by the 20th minute they had scored two more tries. Firstly, second-row Ali McCallum ran a great line to receive a pass and gallop through the midfield from 25 metres out. He scored under the posts and Brett converted before an unconverted effort came from a shorter distance via tight-head Graeme Carson.
In the 28th minute the bonus point fourth try came for the Chieftains. From a lineout drive, Heriot’s were powerless to stop the home pack, hooker Roy Vucago the scorer this time. Brett could not convert, but it was 27-5 and then Currie brought highly rated Boroughmuir-reared Edinburgh Rugby academy prop Ollie Blyth-Lafferty into proceedings off the bench just to add to their dominance up front.
The onslaught towards the Heriot’s try line continued and McCallum bagged his second try of the day, converted by Brett, to make it 34-5.
The penalty count against the visitors was going up and up and when it rains it pours. From a penalty advantage, captain Jamie Forbes’ cross-kick looked like it was being dealt with by Christie, but it took a wicked bounce and centre DJ Innes pounced to score. Brett converted and Currie were 41-5 up after 37 minutes.
There was still time for Heriot’s loose-head Angus Munro to be yellow carded before the break as referee Calum Worsley finally lost patience with the team’s regular infringements and the Goldenacre men were certainly glad to hear the half-time whistle.
With a 36-point lead, Currie took the opportunity to make four substitutions at the interval including Archie Fletcher coming on in the back-row for a debut.
Heriot’s managed to survive the remaining nine minutes while Munro was off the field and when he returned the score was still 41-5.
On the hour mark Currie winger Ryan Daley had a good break and was well supported by centre Cammy Gray, but Heriot’s did well to turn it over.
Currie then repaid the favour with their own turnover and Brett tried to go himself, but Heriot’s won another defensive penalty and they were sticking in well in this half.
It took until the 68th minute for Currie to score their seventh try, the ball going loose near the Heriot’s try line and Lessels being the most alert to kick it on and then dive on the ball. It was unconverted.
Into the last 10 minutes of an uneventful second half, replacement Matt Dillon and winger Finn Carden had good breaks for Heriot’s, but soon after a knock on with the try line at their mercy and then a missed kick to touch summed up the visitors’ day.
After two wins and a draw to date in 2023-24 before kick-off, this was a mission too far for a Heriot’s squad shorn of a few key players.
“It is too easy to reflect on player A, B or C not being around,” Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith said. “We had a good group of players together for this game, but in the first half we were just ‘schooled’ a wee bit in how to be clinical and how to take your chances at this level.
“That first 40 minutes, Currie just used possession really well, we didn’t cope with it and that is just a fact. It is not a negative against our boys in any way and a month into the season I am pretty pleased with how things are going with a number of youngsters having had invaluable Premiership experience.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, DJ Innes, C Gray, J McCaig; J Forbes©, C Lessels; T Jeffrey, R Vucago, G Carson, A McCallum, C West, K Steel, S Cardosi, R Davies. Subs: R Stewart, O Blyth-Lafferty, A Fletcher, M O’Neil, S Leto.
Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; F Carden, R Steele, P Burns, P Christie; D Tomanek, K Kutsuna; A Munro, A Johnston©, A Bogle, N Docherty, B Dineen, I Hill, S Wallace, R Kirkpatrick. Subs: L Forsyth, M Bouab, M Dillon, J McNaughton, C Yuill.
Referee: Calum Worsley.
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Cardosi, McCallum 2, Carson, Vucago, Innes, Lessels. Cons: Brett 4. Pen: Brett.
Heriot’s Blues: Try: Christie.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 5-0; 7-0; 10-0; 10-5; 15-5; 17-5; 22-5; 27-5; 32-5; 34-5; 39-5; 41-5 (h-t); 46-5.
Yellow card –
Heriot’s Blues: Angus Munro (39 mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Plenty of candidates in the home camp with hooker Roy Vucago powerful in the first half, back-row Sam Cardosi looking like a classy back-row arrival from Dundee Rugby and captain Jamie Forbes dictating proceedings, but second-row Ali McCallum takes the award for his two tries and his all-round showing at set piece time and in the loose.
Talking point: Can Currie take the first half form from this game on the road to Hawick next weekend and threaten the Greens’ long unbeaten home record? That promise to be a cracker at Mansfield Park and the Chieftains will want revenge after last season’s last gasp Premiership play-off final defeat at the same venue.