Currie Chieftains 54
IAIN MORRISON @ Malleny Park
IT was an unusual day at Malleny, one when winning and losing a game of rugby was put into its proper perspective following the sudden death of Currie 2nd XV stalwart Grant Williamson, a larger than life character on and off the field.
This was the first home match where his friends and colleagues were able to pay their respects; indeed the players from all six teams that played at Malleny on Saturday, three Currie sides, three opponents, took part in a minute’s round of applause immediately before kick-off to mark the moment.
Williamson’s young son Josh was mascot for the day and, as one club official noted beforehand, getting back to the business in hand also signaled the start of the healing process.
The match itself was a little too one-sided to be of much interest to any but the hardcore Malleny mad men (or women). Jed-Forest managed one try, they dug in and did occasionally threaten a second, but there wasn’t one area of the game in which they were able to compete in a meaningful manner with the home side.
Their lineouts were something of a lottery and Jed’s scrums started well but got progressively worse as the match went on. Worse for the visitors was the fact that they were almost incapable of running through the phases without someone dropping the ball or making some other unforced error.
It is a basic necessity, because without building phases Jed were never really able to build any pressure on Currie. The odd occasion they got into the hosts’ red zone it was almost always thanks to Currie’ indiscipline. When centre Gregor Young found space in the third quarter he was reeled in with worrying ease by the Currie cover defence. At the next breakdown Young was penalised for taking his frustration out on DJ Innes.
Jed’s No 8 Blake Roff worked hard and inside centre Owen Cranston linked with him well to come close in the opening exchanges, but to be honest it was tricky picking out positives from this display.
“It’s tougher perhaps off the field than on it,” bemoaned Jed’s coach Kevin Barrie at the end. “I said to the lads that we have to prepare better than we did but we are only now beginning to get numbers down to training and I myself have only been around for a couple of weeks.
“In terms of what we can take from today’s game . . . . I did see some promise from some players out there but we have Selkirk away next weekend so it won’t get any easier.”
Currie were better but far from their ruthless best. For every try they scored they left another out on the field. No 8 Rhys Davies had the ball over the line but failed to ground it. The twin flankers made a brilliant break only for scrummy Cameron Lasseles to spill the (bullet) pass. Winger Ryan Daley thought he was in only for the referee to spot a tiny fumble at the breakdown. And so it went for much of this match.
Currie scored their first try after just eight minutes; it went to hooker Ryan Stewart following a driven lineout. They claimed three more before the break, playing into a stiff breeze, and added four more in the second half with the elements behind them.
The second try went to DJ Innes but it owed everything to a midfield break by the rampaging breakaway Ali Bain, who marries the pace of a back with the attitude of a cage fighter; a potent bru. He carried relentlessly throughout the opening 40, before being subbed at the break, always making far more metres than he had any right to.
He was ably helped by his backrow amigo Irishman Sam Cardosi who won a host of turnovers/penalties at the breakdown with his jackling expertise and carried with similar conviction.
Currie’s third try was claimed by the teenage tighthead Ollie Blyth-Lafferty, who rumbled over from short range following another lineout drive. The fourth went to James McCaig after a sweeping move opened up a gap on the right flank that any front-row forward could have finished with ease never mind a winger.
Jed enjoyed probably their best period in the third quarter, but Currie were far from finished. First they weathered the visitors’ storm – more of a shower to be honest – and scored two tries in two minutes, one off the right flank, one up the middle of the field, full-back Charlie Brett grabbing an assist for both of them. They both went to replacements that were newly on the field, Sam Leto with the first, Matt O’Neill the second.
Currie’s sixth was followed swiftly by their seventh try of the afternoon. Brett kicked ahead on the left flank and the poor Jed defender could only slap the ball back over his own try line for the Currie winger McCaig to pounce for his second of the afternoon. Much to everyone’s astonishment Brett missed his first and only conversion of the afternoon.
Exactly 67 minutes into this match Jed finally got some reward for all their sweat when the big men rumbled over from an attacking lineout, with replacement hooker David Batey claiming the score and fly-half Gary Munro claiming the extras.
Normal service was quickly resumed. Currie’s eighth try came inside the final 10 minutes when Brett sent Bain, restored to the action, over the line before adding the extras himself.
“We can be a lot better than that,” said Currie’s Mark Cairns at the end of play. “It was pleasing that we defended our line well even at the very end there when the match was won.
“We have the ability to score points very quickly, so that suggests some talent in the team. But we rarely put more than three phases together all afternoon so we will have to be better going forward.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, DJ Innes, C Gray, J McCaig; J Forbes (capt), C Lessels; G Carson, R Stewart, O Blyth-Lafferty, A McCallum, W Inglis, A Bain, S Cardosi, R Davies. Replacements: T Jeffrey, K Robertson, K Steel M O’Neill, S Leto.
Jed-Forest: L Walker; L Elder, G Young, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, M Glen; G Slorance, J Ferguson, H Meadows, C Skeldon (capt), J Hynd, D Waldrop, J Howe, B Roff. Replacements: P Ferreira, D Batey, B Howe, B Fotheringham, A Bambrick.
Referee: Calum Lazenby.
Currie: Tries: Stewart, Innes, Blyth-Lafferty, McCaig (2), Leto, O’Neill, Bain. Cons: Brett (7).
Jed-Forest: Try: Batey. Con: Munro.
Scoring sequence (Chieftains first): 0-0, 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 21-0, 26-0, 28-0. H-T. 33-0, 35-0, 40-0, 42-0, 47-0, 47-5, 47-7, 52-7, 54-7.
Yellow cards –
Currie: Bain 78, McCaig 79.
Man of the match: There are several candidates, all from the home side. No 8 Rhys Davies grew into this game as the match progressed, carrying well. Skipper Jamie Forbes quietly took the right options most of the time and locks Will Inglis and Ali McCallum apparently had a monopoly on the lineout. But the honour goes to full-back Charlie Brett, who kicked (almost) everything off the tee as well as having a hand in three or four of Currie’s tries.
Talking point: Two yellow cards inside the final few minutes to Currie’s Ali Bain and James McCaig gave Jed some hope that they might add to their single score, but the clock beat them.